Shakespeare has a robot now. She’s yellow, humanoid and kind of sassy as she introduces each scene in this revamped Romeo and Juliet.Did I mention she actually walks around the page and talks to Shakespeare on occasion? I wish I could say you will open Living Popup’s magical book and she just appears like a Star Wars-esque hologram on the page, but we’re just not there yet. This book is Augmented Reality (AR) Enabled, which means you download an app on your phone, point your camera at illustrations in the book, and the scene unfolds on your screen.
I had so much fun with this book at the ALA conference that I got a little giddy and bought it on the spot. I’m a big kid now, but Living Popups actually made me like Shakespeare. If I had had this version as a teenager, my eyes wouldn’t have glazed over while being forced to analyze every turn of phrase back in the day. But fear not! The original Shakespearean text remains untouched, just formatted more like a modern movie script than the version with tiny font that was inflicted upon me. I’m replacing my obligatory Shakespeare collection with the AR version immediately.
The AR illustrations appear at the start of every act and scene. We all know the themes, character development, and lessons learned from Shakespeare are timeless. The robot is another fun way to bridge the gap from the old, unfamiliar language to the new world. Unlike my Shakespeare professor in college who seemed determined to make me memorize passages, the AR robot jumps in to explain the setting, little parts of history, and important plot points in a way that actually makes sense. And doesn’t make me want to take a nap.
It was also fun to see a robot have a conversation with Shakespeare to ask him what in the world he was thinking, writing a play about two dying teenagers. I paraphrase, but you get the idea. Robot gets real. If you want to make Shakespeare interesting, but still stay true to the original text, the robot can help. It’s better than sitting down and watching the Leo DiCaprio movie again. Though that is an undeniable classic. I own the soundtrack. It couldn’t hurt to do both? I digress.
Living Popups makes a little quartet of robot-ified Shakespeare books, some Boxcar Children books, Animal Farm, Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and a growing collection of books for Elementary to Middle school students. The AR scenes are actually good, with voice acting and everything.
Give Living Popups a try if you want to see the future of books.