Neal Stephenson, you’re an amazing man. Now, the question is - why don’t we have a device like this already? (hint, if this hasn’t already been looked at, I’ve got dibs on an implementation idea!)
The book spoke in a lovely contralto, with an accent like the very finest Vickys. The voice was like a real person - though not like anyone Nell had ever met. It rose and fell like siow surf on a warm beach, and when Nell closed her eyes, it swept her out into an ocean of feelings.__Once upon a time there was a little Princess named Nell who was imprisoned in a tall dark castle on an island in the middle of a great sea, with a little boy named Harv, who was her friend and protector. She also had four special friends named Dinosaur, Duck, Peter Rabbit, and Purple. Princess Nell and Harv could not leave the Dark Castle, but from time to time a raven would come to visit them…
“What’s a raven?” Nell said.
The illustration was a colorful painting of the island seen from up in the sky. The island rotated downward and out of the picture, becoming a view toward the ocean horizon. In the middle was a black dot. The picture zoomed in on the black dot, and it turned out to be a bird. Big letters appeared beneath.
“RAVEN” the book said. “Raven. Now, say it with me.”
“Very good! Nell, you are a clever girl, and you have much talent with words. Can you spell raven?”
Nell hesitated. She was still blushing from the praise. After a few seconds, the first of the letters began to blink. Nell prodded it. The letter grew until it had pushed all the other letters and pictures off the edges of the page. The loop on top shrank and became a head, while the lines sticking out the bottom developed into legs and began to scissor. “R is for Run,” the book said. The picture kept on changing until it was a picture of Nell. Then something fuzzy and red appeared beneath her feet. “Nell Runs on the Red Rug,” the book said, and as it spoke, new words appeared.
“Why is she running?”
“Because an Angry Alligator Appeared,” the book said, and panned back quite some distance to show an alligator, waddling along ridiculously, no threat to the fleet Nell. The alligator became frustrated and curled itself into a circle, which became a small letter.
“A is for Alligator. The Very Vast alligator Vainly Viewed Nell’s Valiant Velocity.”
The little story went on to include an Excited Elf who was Nibbling Noisily on some Nuts. Then the picture of the Raven came back, with the letters beneath. “Raven. Can you spell raven, Nell?” A hand materialized on the page and pointed to the first letter.
“R” Nell said.
“Very good! You are a clever girl, Nell, and good with letters,” the book said.
“What is this letter?” and it pointed to the second one. This one Nell had forgotten.
But the book told her a story about an Ape named Albert.