Heuristic Shakespeare—The Tempest

with Ian McKellen and Jonathan Bate. illus. by David Huges. Heuristic Shakespeare Limited. 2016. iOS, requires 8.0 or later. Version 1.0.6. $5.99.
Gr 7 Up—On opening this app, the first in a new series from actor McKellen and professor Bate, viewers will be able to choose from which of three levels they would like to approach Shakespeare's text. (Level l is recommended for those new to the Bard.) From there, it's straight into the play. Once in the text, students are likely to stop occasionally to access the pop-up definitions of words and phrases. They'll also see line notations and thumbnail links to images from art or theater productions of the play. In portrait mode, viewers can watch as actors (Ian McKellen, Derek Jacobi, Frances Barber, etc.) recite lines while the text scrolls below.To go deeper, students can access the "Table of Contents," which offers several options. There's "Play at a Glance," a summarizing feature. The "Character Map" organizes players by scene, presents their individual lines in chronological order, and connects to images and/or videos of performances. Another feature allows students to take notes, and there are links to essays on "Shakespeare's World and Times." With access to a First Folio, viewers can zoom in and examine the earliest version of the play. In addition to the reproductions, videos, and photos, the app is illustrated with distinctive, stylized pen-and-ink drawings washed in earth tones.Readers may never get around to clicking on the question mark icon on the bottom of the screen, which would be a shame, because it will take them to the most useful section of the app, "Navigating the Play." This video tutorial is guaranteed to save students time as it explains and demonstrates how to get the most out of the production's options and views. Just as valuable is the unassuming "Settings" link, which allows viewers to customize many of the reading experience features. Shakespeare fans will be laying hopeful wagers on which play will be next in the series.—Chris Gustafson, formerly of Whitman Middle School, Seattle Public Schools

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