A Few Words With … Michael Dowling
Author of Flip Along Fun

Flip Along Fun is so clever. How did you ever think of it?

I wanted to write an interactive book that would allow the child to invent stories. That just seemed like a fun and imaginative idea, and a flipbook about animals was a logical format. But I didn't sit down and conceptualize the book all at once. As I worked on it, it sort of took on a life of its own. The teaching aspects evolved during the creative process.

You say the book is educational. What does it teach?

Flip Along Fun teaches children eight important concepts: animals, colors, numbers, rhymes, beginning/middle/end, matching, sequencing, and addition. Because the child creates the story, the book also stimulates creativity and promotes logical thinking.

Flip Along Fun has been praised by educators, child psychologists, and pediatricians. Recently someone told me her grandchildren are ahead of their peers in school largely because of this book. Best of all, kids have so much fun that they don't even know they're learning!

That's quite a bit of learning! How does the book work?

Flip Along Fun is a board book with nine pages. Each page is divided horizontally into three panels. The child starts creating the story by randomly picking any one of the nine panels on the left, and then continues by choosing any of the nine panels from the middle. In the process, the child is learning animals, colors, numbers, sequencing, rhymes, and beginning/middle/end.

To end the story and learn the concept of matching, the child finds the one panel on the right (there's always only one right match) that contains all of the animals pictured in the first two panels. When the animals match up, the numbers add up. So Flip Along Fun teaches addition, too!

You wrote the book, and your wife Sarah illustrated it. How is it to work as a team?

It's a hoot! I love watching her illustrate my ideas and bring them to life. We laugh a lot as she is drawing the characters and giving them personalities. Most authors and illustrators don't even know each other. But I think it's a big advantage for us to be able to work closely together. We're able to interact and improve the book as we go along.

What age children will like Flip Along Fun?

Two year olds love the animals, the colors, and the rhymes. Starting at age 2 ½ to 3, children fully enjoy the matching and counting aspects. Kids generally outgrow the book around age 6, but we often hear about 6 to 8 year olds who get a big kick out of reading the book to younger siblings.

When did you first realize you had a winner on your hands?

My wife Sarah and I occasionally sell Flip Along Fun in weekend arts and craft shows, along with some other high quality toys she illustrated. All of these products are terrific. In fact, some of them have won major awards. But, amazingly, Flip Along Fun far outsells all of the other products. People just fall in love with the book as soon as I demonstrate how it works. And when they come back and see us a year later, they often tell us it's their child's favorite.

What other children's products have you created?

Sarah has illustrated a number of children's toys, some of which have received considerable recognition. For example, the My Home Town building blocks she illustrated won a "Toys of the Year Award" from Parenting Magazine. And the ABC Building Blocks she illustrated were a main selection of the Children's Book of the Month Club. These and other products Sarah helped create can be viewed on www.underthelamb.com.

Where can people purchase Flip Along Fun?

When people order from www.flipalongfun.com (call 912-230-5051), I will autograph the copies at no additional charge. If buyers provide the first names of the recipients at checkout, I'll even be glad to personalize the autographs. The book is also available on Amazon.com.