Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Kate Greenaway's "Pied Piper" New eBook with Audio

Disclaimer: I was given free access to this eBook for the purposes of a survey and review. My thanks to Animusia for contacting me with the opportunity.

If you like The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning then you will probably be familiar with Kate Greenaway's lovely illustrations for the poem as well.

New eBook Cover
What's cool is that there's a new, high quality eBook (released December 21, 2011) that not only has beautifully reproduced high quality images that you can enlarge till you can see every detail of Kate Greenaway's lovely illustrations but a very special audio recording that makes the whole poem, and viewing the artwork, fresh again.

While having a high quality copy of the illustrations is worth the price in my opinion, it's the new audio presentation that takes this ebook from good to excellent and will keep you coming back to it. The poem is read beautifully by Stella Arman, a singer and vocal trainer, and it's possibly the best I've ever heard Robert Browning's Pied Piper read and presented. The musicGordon Jacob’s Pied Piper suite for flute and piccolo, complements it perfectly. 

The combination of the reading, music and illustrations kept both my young son and I turning the pages right till the end. Frankly, I was surprised my son was initially so interested but he said it was really pretty to listen to. When the animation began with the children moving through the streets to the Piper's music he lit up and started asking questions about where they were going.

Unfortunately I don't have an e-reader of my own and was only able to borrow an iTouch to view it on but I imagine the experience would have been even better on iPad. On the iTouch the animation was a little jittery and there were initial download issues but that may just be because we didn't have the latest gadget available, even though we upgraded the software to enable the download in the first place.

We didn't use the text highlighting option but I think it would have been excellent if we'd had an iPad (ie a much larger screen) to view it with, as the audio appealed to my son so much I think it would have encouraged him to try reading along (he's just starting to recognize words and sound out new one).

I only have two issues with the eBook:

1) You have to go through iTunes to get it and I'm not a fan of iTunes for multiple reasons.
2) When you enlarge images, although the detail and quality is, indeed, excellent, the nature of the enlargement, in which you lose your view of the rest of the illustration, takes away from the experience. The one time my son lost interest is when we started enlarging things and he couldn't see the whole picture anymore. 

Children are big fans of details in illustrations - something Kate Greenaway specifically included in her Pied Piper illustrations on Ruskin's advice. When you're looking at details in a book the rest of the "magic" of the picture is still maintained and unfortunately this is lost in most eBooks I've seen, including this one. I know that's the nature of enlarging things in general but I have to wonder if maybe a magnifying bubble or similar enlarging tool that keeps the rest of the illustration visible in the background, might not be a better option, especially when sharing with children. 

Overall I was surprised I enjoyed this eBook as it takes something special for me to recommend one. I'm not won over (at least not yet) by most of the eBook technology available but this new eBook helped me take the reading experience one step beyond a book for my son with the addition of the beautiful audio and I can see us reading it again. For that it has my thumbs up.

If you'd like to add this to your library the current price is $7.99 (I suggest you take into account the excellent recording when you compare prices with other eBooks) and the link is HERE.

No comments:

Post a Comment