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Review: ‘Treasure Island’

Who can resist of a swashbuckling tale of treasure and treachery? I can’t, and your students won’t be able to either when they see and hear this 1883 classic on the iPad. Our reviewer Joy Davis explains why.

Screen shot from 'Treasure Island' (Stevenson) Cruickshank

Title: Treasure Island
Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
Developed by: Space Dog Books, Inc.
Illustrated by:
Matthew Cruickshank
Voice: Denny Delk
Platform: iOS, requires 5.0 or later
Version: 1.3
Price: $7.99

Gr 6 Up-Looking for a way to introduce students to Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale of pirates, treasure, and mutiny? Look no further than Space Dog’s 136-page, abridged version featuring numerous interactive illustrations, animations, and “immersive soundscapes.”

Navigation is smooth: a swipe of the finger turns pages and a pull-down tab allows readers to select chapters. There’s no read-aloud option here, but the terrific sound effects are sure to draw readers into the story: the creaking ship, the blowing wind, the crashing waves, the cracking fires, the moaning pirates, and in a few places, voiced lines (“Ha, ha, ha, I’ll tell you the first time I ever seen a mermaid.”) There’s also a bit of song. Some of the sounds are automatic; others are activated by a swipe, a tap, or a shake. All enhance the storytelling.

Full- and half-screen images depict life near the Bristol docks with townspeople and sailors going to and fro, and scenes at sea of pirates facing storms and in hand-to-hand combat. Many of the pictures are animated and viewers will notice smoke rising from chimneys, birds in flight, and candles flickering. There are also interactive elements such as a pistol to fire or a spyglass to open and close. A touch to an icon on the pull-down tab will alert readers to these delightful interactive elements. An atmospheric, engaging version sure to entice students.— Joy Davis, Ouachita Parish Public Library, Monroe, LA