Before I started reading The Raven to my kids with Play Creatividad’s iPoe 2, my daughter asked who Edgar Allan Poe is. “He’s an author,” I explained. “You’ll read about him in American Lit in high school, and he’ll make the whole school year worth it.” My wife agreed, adding that Poe was one of the only authors she ever really enjoyed reading in high school lit classes.
My kids won’t have to wait that long, thanks to the wonderfully designed iPoe apps. iPoe 2 is the latest, bringing us The Black Cat, Hop Frog, and The Raven.
What is it?
iPoe 2 is designed to enhance the experience of reading the works of Edgar Allan Poe, not replace it. Using artwork, music and a small degree of interactivity, the app brings you closer to the material without ever distracting you from it.
I can’t say this is what it would be like to be inside Poe’s head, but it’s certainly like being inside my head when reading his works.
How does it work?
A book cover greets you upon launching iPoe 2, indicating the developers very much want this to be a traditional reading experience despite the enhanced media.
From there, you can simply swipe through the pages to read the three tales in the order presented, or you can access the main menu for chapter selections and the extra contents. There are also plenty of options for sharing the app on social media and buying more apps, and that’s my biggest complaint about iPoe; I’m not on the marketing team for Play Creatividad, so they don’t need to make this promotional stuff so dominant.
Inside the stories, the text is presented, for the most part, in a classic typeface on slightly yellowed linen paper, giving a warm, traditional feel to the pages. The illustrations by David Garcia Forés blend in perfectly, and feature some animations that can be quite subtle (torches flickering or beverages steaming) or quite alarming (doors shaking).
Many involve some sort of interactivity, which was great for my kids to discover…although perhaps not right before bedtime. The music by Teo Grimalt is effective, albeit repetitive, and can be startling in its absence when replaced by sound effects timed with the content of the page you’re on.
Still, the app’s greatest strength is the material. This is a diverse collection that should please those knew to Poe as well as those who have been reading and rereading him since…well, since American Lit in high school.
Is it contagious?
iPoe 2 is exactly the sort of app for which the iPad is perfectly suited. I wish these stores had been made available as in-app purchases in the first iPoe, but the price is fair and the app is universal.
I find it funny that the app suggests headphone use for the best experience; I’ve always felt Poe is best enjoyed when read out loud, especially to others. My kids dig this sort of thing, so it was fun to read it to them and let them play with the interactive animations. And if they grow up to ask their teachers, “Can we just hurry up and get to Poe?” in the middle of a lecture on The Great Gatsby (or the periodic table or the Treaty of Versailles, for that matter), then all the better.