Mercer Mayer – who was among the earliest authors venturing into the digital space, having worked on Little Critter CD-ROMs back in 1986 – has two new apps with Silver Dolphin Books. The Trip – Little Critter Reading Adventure and The Trip – Little Critter GamePak, both of which launched March 21, were produced by John Sansevere, who has been working with Mayer on digital versions of Little Critter from the beginning.

“Things are just moving along in terms of technology,” says Mayer, who also has seen about 25 of his 200 Little Critter books turned into e-books with Oceanhouse Media. “We’ve lived for many years in Gutenberg’s technology, but now that technology is being superseded by today’s technology. There’s more interactivity and more possibility. And kids go to it like peanut butter and jelly. They’re naturally attuned to it.”

That’s not to say that e-books will replace traditional formats. “There’s more print now than there ever was,” Mayer continues. “It’s always going to be that way. There’s something very important about holding a book and getting very comfortable sitting down and reading something at your own pace. Just because you have the capacity to have interactivity all the time doesn’t mean you have to have interactivity all the time. With kids, it’s not an either/or. As long as both are enjoyable, they want both.”

Oceanhouse’s e-books feature simple games but are primarily a reading experience. The new Silver Dolphin reading adventure incorporates more and deeper interactivity, with games all along the way – from paint by number to matching games to the ability to collect objects that might come in useful later in the trip – integrated into the storyline. The GamePak spin-off features 50 activities, including the debut of Digistix, animated stickers with sound effects. All the titles from both companies are based on existing print books.

Separately, Mayer recently retained his first licensing agent, Infinity Licensing, and signed Merrymakers for the first-ever plush Little Critter doll. He notes that many licensees and agents have approached him over the years, but nothing came of it. “I liked this group, so we thought, let’s try some things and see what happens,” he says. Talks continue for activity books and other products to be part of a small merchandise program.

Mayer recently finished Just a Little Love and is working on Just a Kite, the latest print titles for HarperCollins. “I’m always working on a Little Critter book,” he says.