November 17, 2017

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Kings, Queens, & Castles on the iPad | Touch and Go

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Two deep and highly engaging illustrated apps bring European history—from battles to scandals—to the iPad.

Elizabeth I from Kings & Queens (Aimer Media, Ltd.)

Elizabeth I from Kings & Queens (Aimer Media, Ltd.)

Kings & Queens: 1,000 Years of British Royal History (Aimer Media, Ltd. iOS $1.99; Gr 5 Up) provides a millennium’s worth of information on the lives, loves, and legacies of the British monarchs. Content can be accessed from two menus: “Portraits” or “Royal line of succession,” both of which also serve as scrolling time lines. A tap to the main menu allows users to search, browse all kings and queens, or view the royal family lineages alphabetically.

When readers select the portrait of Queen Victoria they will see Her Majesty’s eyes blink. (This and other animated portraits add a touch of charm to an otherwise informational app.) After reading two screens of biographical info, students can delve deeper into history of the period through profiles on related individuals. The real treat hides under the small picture frame—eight formal portraits of Victoria from childhood to her late years. Romance and scandals aren’t shied away from in the royal profiles and a “Top Facts” bar on the main menu leads viewers to information under such topics as “Crowning Achievement,” “Kingly Cruelty,” “Throne under Threat,” and “Awkward End.”  Brief, newsy spotlights on a variety of subjects from the Domesday survey of 1086 to the Seven Years War can be accessed from the time line as well, and there are a multitude of hyperlinks. Royal enthusiasts will enjoy the “My Favourites” option where they can store profiles of monarchs. These entries can be easily uploaded or shared via text or email. Short, oversimplified quizzes on the monarchs are also included.

The Royal Collection Trust is responsible for the care of the Royal Collection. It aims to preserve treasures of past monarchs and to ensure that the art is available to future generations. They handily fulfill their mission with the app’s illustrated, easy-to-read text that makes complicated lineages and political tangles accessible. Its interactivity is in its fluid navigation features. A rich, well-designed resource from a premier source.–Deirdre Reddington, Uniondale High School Library, NY

 

timeline battle castlesEurope’s mightiest fortresses and key battles are just a tap away in Ballista Media’s updated version of Timeline Battle Castles (iOS $9.99; Gr 6 Up), created by the producers of the British Battle Castle documentary television series and the show’s popular host, Dan Snow. This latest iOS version presents another winning multimedia platform that makes medieval history accessible.

A highly interactive time line filled with more than 1000 entries links users to text, photos, film clips, museum-quality archived images, and interactive maps. The app delivers a sizeable amount of information in easily digestible bites, perfect for young enthusiasts of medieval life. Each entry provides well-written content on major castles across Europe and the Middle East, as well as key battles, sieges, and historical profiles from 1000–1500 BCE.

The map can be searched and filtered by century, decade, or year. Users can access information by swiping through the illustrated chronology or using a keyword search box. A quick tap on the help screen yields a video featuring Snow demonstrating how to use the app. An Internet connection is required for the videos.

The app’s visual experience is top notch. The tablet’s retina capability makes viewing the photographs a real treat. Users can effortlessly navigate European history and explore more than 500 stunning photos of castles, many with computer-generated 360-degree views. Users will be captivated by the more than 100 videos, including clips from the Battle Castle TV series, siege weapons in action, footage of actual replica castle construction, and demonstrations of various aspects of medieval life, such as how to catch a rat or how to make a pen out of a goose feather. Superb edutainment in a highly polished, multilayered package, and an essential purchase for secondary history fans.–Celeste Steward, San Leandro Public Library, CA

 For additional app reviews, visit School Library Journal‘s dedicated app webpage.

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Daryl Grabarek About Daryl Grabarek

Daryl Grabarek dgrabarek@mediasourceinc.com is the editor of School Library Journal's monthly enewsletter, Curriculum Connections, and its online column Touch and Go. Before coming to SLJ, she held librarian positions in private, school, public, and college libraries. Her dream is to manage a collection on a remote island in the South Pacific.

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Comments

  1. I’m curious. How does Kings & Queens cover Richard III?