According to a report by the BBC, Oxford University Press has created a new series of picture books “ branded Project X “ that attempt to appeal to young boys by mimicking the look of video game imagery.
The books have been tested in 2,000 schools and … are centred around the character of Max and his friends Cat, Ant, and Tiger, who find their watches have the power to make them shrink, opening up a whole new world of adventures. The friends end up snowboarding on spoons, exploring inside a sandcastle, white-water rafting on a pencil, and surfing on lolly sticks.
Sounds a lot like that Mighty-Mites comic that used to run in the back pages of Owl Magazine, no? If memory serves, however, that strip was fairly handsomely illustrated, whereas Project X is “ghastly” looking, according to a number of industry critics.
Charlie Higson, author of the Young Bond books, welcomed the OUP’s attempt to write fiction for boys, but questioned the books’ reliance on computer images. “They look absolutely ghastly,” he said. “They’re trying to look like computer games and they’re trying to get [boys] to interact with them like a computer. The point is that books are different to computers “ that’s the whole point. If kids want to play with computers, they’ll play with computers, not read these stories.”
You can see a few pages from the series here and judge for yourself.