Mother is launching its first book, a children's fiction title called "Operation Alphabet," this month and plans to add future titles by crowdsourcing kindergarteners.
The book, published by Thames & Hudson in London and New York, was written by Al MacCuish, a creative director at Mother, and designed by Jim Bletsas, Mother's head of design. "Operation Alphabet" is part of a larger concept called the Ministry of Letters that will be developed into a series of books, apps, a roadshow and other products based around bringing the alphabet to life.
An app is in development, with plans to harness the next generation of voice-activation technology. Mr. MacCuish said, "We love the idea that if kids had thoughts or questions about the alphabet -- or just wanted to play with [the letters] -- that they could speak to them directly."
Mother is crowdsourcing ideas for the next book in the series through an online competition inviting kindergarten-aged children to help design a lower-case alphabet. Mr. Bletsas said, "We're really excited about the chance to involve the audience in all the things we create." The website parodies a real government site, and encourages children to think of the letters of the alphabet as characters.
The Ministry of Letters is Mother's latest commercial venture. Earlier efforts include Dogmatic, a food cart-turned-restaurant opened in New York's Union Square, and Green Bottle, an eco-friendly milk-packaging product. Back in 2008, Mother produced a feature film called Somerstown, funded by Eurostar, the London-Paris train service.
Andy Medd, a partner at Mother who is working on the Ministry of Letters product, said, "Mother is essentially a creative brand and there seems nothing more appropriate than our role in nurturing this project in particular. Publishing is an area we have been interested in for some time, and this launch represents another step into an exciting new space for us."
The team at Mother worked closely on the book with a children's education specialist, Samantha Marrian, who is also helping the agency create the roadshow that will tour schools around the country.
Operation Alphabet recounts the story of a top-secret government department, The Ministry of Letters, where all the letters and words in the country are created. The story's hero, five-year-old Charlie Foxtrot, finds learning the alphabet confusing but, thanks to the efforts of the Ministry's Special Alphabet Service, it all becomes clear in time for a crucial test.
The book, which is illustrated by Barcelona-based artist Luciano Lozano, is being published this month in the U.K. and in October in the U.S., Germany and Poland, and will also be available in other countries. It will be available from Oct. 24 on Amazon, discounted to $13.57 from the hardcover price of $19.95.