***Just received (Jan 22) an email to say Batalugu is closing as of February 1, 2013.
Batalugu is a new website offering kids the opportunity to create their own books. You can try it without joining, but joining is free. You only pay if you want to order actual print copies of books.
Once you log in, you'll see a simple uncluttered interface. In your bookcase is a tutorial book that takes you through the main features of creating a Batalugu book. Click slightly to the right edge of the book to open it and turn pages. There are also other books to read, or use as models for children's own stories. Screen shots here are of my book, Frog's Big Day.
Creating a book is fairly easy. First, choose a title which you can change later, and edit it with colour and font. Choose characters and background for your cover too. Click to the right side of the cover again to open the book and start building your story - with text, images from the Batalugu library or your own images, backgrounds etc. Each element is editable, allowing kids to make changes as their confidence grows. I uploaded my own image but had trouble re-sizing it - could be because it was too small a size to begin with.
One feature that could have worked well, but didn't really, or maybe didn't yet, was the rhymes and rhythms menu. The rhythms offered are way off. The rhymes section is also supposed to work for synonyms. It suggested "Aussie, chink, goat and bucking bronco" as synonyms for frog. Hmm.
That aside, I think Batalugu is a another tool to add to your parent or teacher tool box as a place where kids can write. There's a really good range of available clipart that might help get kids started. And if your kids are keen, they can proceed to ordering a print copy of their work. Great idea!