App review by Stacy Zeiger, Common Sense Education | Updated April 2014
IPoe - The Interactive And Illustrated Edgar Allen Poe Collection
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iPoe - The Interactive and Illustrated Edgar Allen Poe Collection

An amusing way to introduce kids to the master of suspense

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Grades
7–12
Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts, Communication & Collaboration

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Pros: Animations and sound effects add to the eerie feel of Poe's stories; Spanish and French translations are a plus.

Cons: Reading supports are lacking, such as a glossary or audio options.

Bottom Line: This illustrated app is a fun way to introduce students to Poe, but it lacks reading supports or opportunities for critical thinking and reflection.

iPoe could be a fun substitute for reading these stories in a textbook or more traditional format. To increase reading support, you could have kids read along with an audio recording of the stories. Or you could read aloud to the class. By introducing students to Poe in this way, students may become more receptive to his work when they discover it outside of the app. As students explore the stories and animations, you could encourage them to create their own sketches to accompany the scenes, particularly the parts of the stories that don't have any sketches in the app.

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When you pick up a story by Edgar Allen Poe, you can expect a bit of gruesomeness, as well as a lot of mystery and suspense. iPoe - The Interactive and Illustrated Edgar Allen Poe Collection is an interactive reader that heightens the elements of these suspenseful stories with its yellowed pages, eerie background music, scary sketches, and spooky animations. The collection includes "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Oval Portrait," "Annabel Lee," and "The Masque of the Red Death." Text is available in English, French, or Spanish, and is enhanced by the sketches and animations that readers can move around the page or tap on to change the mood of the scene. For example, readers see a portrait of a woman perfectly alive and tap on it to reveal a portrait of the same woman dead. In addition to the texts, readers can read a biography of Edgar Allen Poe, view some of the sketches from the story in the sketchbook, or browse Poe-related items in the Poe Shop. Poe lovers will appreciate this fun collection, and those new to his work will get an engaging introduction to a master of horror.

While iPoe doesn't feature text analysis, vocabulary lookup, narration, or other features to support reading comprehension, the animations and illustrations add to the stories and provide additional engagement. At its heart, iPoe presents a doctored-up version of some of Poe's classic stories, but offers little else to encourage readers to think critically or make meaning from the text. Even with the interactive animations, readers simply move skeletons, drag pictures, and activate special effects. However, the animations, sketches, and music do set the tone and mood of the stories, helping readers get a feel for Poe's classic style.

Overall Rating

Engagement

The warning before reading and spooky feel add to the mystery and horror in Poe's short stories.

Pedagogy

More features could be added to help improve understanding of the stories.

Support

The app lacks assistive features and general help info, but additional resources support learning.


Common Sense reviewer
Stacy Zeiger Homeschooling parent

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Featured review by
Shannon M. , Postsecondary student
Postsecondary student
Such a cute supplementary site.
This seems like such a cute little interactive site to use as a supplement to poetry unit. As the description says, Poe is such a morbid writer and this is a way to make his writing a little lighter.
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