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The Voyage of Ulysses
Pros: High-interest overview introduces students to classic themes and oft-referenced characters.
Cons: The story’s there, but there’s little poetry left in this version of Homer’s epic.
Bottom Line: Even without poetic language, interactive adventures engage kids in the classic story’s details and themes.
With the read-aloud narration, dramatic soundtrack, and gorgeous graphics, The Voyage of Ulysses could almost serve as a movie to watch as a class. Teachers could explore the interactive elements or have student volunteers explore each page. It's designed for kids age 9-11, but older students would still appreciate the simplified language and engaging images explaining this literary classic. This could be a great supplemental tool for high school students who struggle with the language in a more dated English translation. Teachers could also use the app to introduce a unit on mythology or to supplement a study on excerpts from The Odyssey, with students exploring solo, in small groups, or as a whole class. Finally, teachers may want to recommend the app to Percy Jackson fans, who may love it.
The Voyage of Ulysses is an interactive storybook that lets kids explore the major episodes of Homer’s Odyssey. The story starts with a brief introduction to Homer before kids discover the text and an interactive map of the ancient Mediterranean world. Kids can read along chronologically, starting with the Trojan War. They meet the Lotus Eaters, the Cyclops, Aeolus, Penelope, Circe, the Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis, Calypso, and the Phaeacians' ships before finally returning to Ithaca. Kids will feel like they’re sailing with the ship’s crew, hiding in Polyphemus's cave with Odysseus, or weaving and unweaving with Penelope.
Navigation is simple, advancing forward or back with the bottom navigation bar. Kids can tap the question mark to read commentary and more detail from the original epic. They can also use the map icon to travel directly to specific adventures, represented with graphics of the characters.
This isn't a complete curriculum; no vocabulary or checks for understanding are included. Instead, it’s more of an interactive book adaption of parts of the epic poem. Kids will be hooked by the interactive elements, discovering and experiencing the adventures as if they are the hero. The interface is simple, but sometimes that simplicity is limited. The only language options are English or Italian, and the only narration options are “Read to Me” or not. It might be helpful to have more language options, making this an even better fit for ELL students.
Though the writing isn't as poetic as a complete translation, kids will understand the story, appreciate the themes, and begin to recognize some of the myths. While this app is no substitute for reading the Odyssey in the original Greek or in translation, it’s a great introduction to the epic poem’s story, characters, and spirit.