As an entertainment reporter, Nancy O’Dell has traveled all over the globe covering more than her fair share of breaking news and Hollywood’s hottest stories. And now the mom is ready to share her love of journalism with her new interactive storybook app called Little Ashby: Star Reporter.
Courtesy Nancy O’Dell; Inset: Howard Wise/JPI
Centered around a cute cub reporter Ashby (named after O’Dell’s daughter) and her FUNtastic crew, each story follows the group of friends as they discover some of the greatest wonders of the world.
For example, Ashby’s first assignment sends her and the gang to see Santa (and his elf publicist!) in search of what the holiday spirit is really about.
“Kids will learn where Alaska is, where the North Pole is, why it is dark there in the winter, what the Northern Lights are and so much more,” O’Dell tells PEOPLE.
Each story also tries to teach compassion and good values to its e-readers. “In the story there is a Narwhal who tries to see Santa’s premiere. He tells Ashby he can’t see Santa because people are blocking him and snickering at him because of the way he looks,” O’Dell says.
“Narwhal winds up saving the premiere and Santa delivers the message of how we are supposed to be kind and nice to everyone all year long.”
While developing the app, O’Dell’s daughter Ashby tested everything out and even made her own suggestions. “She was my reviewer basically! I ran everything by her … she had some great points!” says the proud mama. “I had her listen to various voices the characters would become and let her choose which ones she thought were the most fun.”
The 5-year-old also suggested that they include real videos of animals that live in the Arctic for a more authentic feel.
Added bonus: A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Muscular Dystrophy Association in honor of their Goodwill Ambassador Bryson Foster, who voices Ashby’s cameraman, Arty.
– Anya Leon