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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Seuss, Dr.: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

4.5 stars

This isn't a review of the Dr. Seuss classic per se but of an edition of the book for the iPhone/iPod Touch just released by Oceanhouse Media. The book can be downloaded from the iTunes app store for (currently) $3.99. When you enter the app you arrive at a welcome screen that offers two alternatives: you can either have the book read to you or read it yourself. If you choose the former option, a pleasant, expressive male voice with an English accent will read the current page. The words in the text turn red as he says them, so young readers can follow along. The pages don't turn automatically, but one swipes right to left or left to right to go forward or back in the text. If you select the read it yourself option, a reader who is stuck on a word can still choose to have that page read to them: you just touch the text and the same narrator will read that page's content. Again, the words will turn red as the narrator reads them.

Obviously, the fact that a narrator is at the ready to read the text makes this edition of the book more interactive than your average paperback. But there are other differences as well. When you turn to a page with a new picture, the static image will pan in or out, which makes it a bit more interesting. And there are cool sound effects, popping sounds and whistles and background music, for example, when the Whos start their infernal Who singing. (There is also an option to turn sound effects off.) The neatest thing, though, is that on each page a number of areas of the picture will be mapped, so that when you touch them the narrator will name what you've touched, and the name will zoom out of the picture in big red letters. If the item named appears in the text on that page, the zooming letters will emerge not from the picture but from the text itself.

Another positive is that when you go back into the book--or if you accidentally click the arrow in the lower right corner of the screen that takes you back to the welcome page--you're given an option to resume reading where you left off.

There's only one thing I can think of that would improve this app. In the read it yourself version of the story, one touches the text to have the narrator read the whole page. But it would be nice if each word on the page were mapped individually so that you also have the option of having the narrator read individual words instead. (In this case there could be a "read this page" button somewhere to hear the whole page rather than individual words.) That's a minor complaint. This is a nice edition of the text, a good app to have on your iPhone if you need to entertain a kid for a while.

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