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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.

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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

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