If your children loved Rounds: Franklin Frog or you just happen to be in the market for an engaging interactive app about biology then Rounds: Parker Penguin may be the perfect fit for your early reader. This lovely non-fiction title will covers the life cycle of a penguin beginning from his first few independent steps up until he grows into an adult and becomes a parent himself. Children join Parker, his son Percy and his grandson Peter as they learn to swim, hunt for food and protect their young. While life concepts are kept factual, they are introduced in a gentle way, using familiar actions such as singing in order to depict technical ideas. Aside from the main narrative, there are also plenty of interesting snippets about Antarctica to be found around the app’s virtual pages.
Depending on a child’s reading proficiency, the app may be explored in one of two modes. In Read and Play mode, kids can enjoy the app with an accompanying vocal narration. This covers the story text, discovered facts as well as character dialogue. Text is highlighted as they are read aloud so that kids can read along and get a better grasp of the terms used.
On the other hand, more advanced readers may choose to begin the story on Read by Myself mode. In this style of play, all sound effects and background music is retained however written text is not read aloud by a narrator. This way, kids can read at their own pace using speech bubbles. This mode may be used by adults who wish to familiarize kids with the terms themselves, going over important words in detail instead of waiting for the narration clips to finish.
There are interactive hotspots marked by blue-colored dots scattered about each page. Exploring every nook and cranny will not only help unfold Parker’s story, it will also mention interesting tidbits and simple terms. Does your little one know that a small iceberg is called a growler? How about the fact that penguins oil their feathers to keep them waterproof? With the myriad of fun facts scattered about Rounds: Parker Penguin, children will surely pick up an interesting tidbit or two. Who knows, this may even ignite his curiosity in all things scientific.
The app is clever in maintaining a good balance between keeping things accurate while delivering it in a kid-friendly way. For instance, when Parker goes hunting for anchovies, the player is reminded that bigger animals are hunting for food as well. The graphics are kept classy, with beautiful stylized graphics and clean lines that make each object easily distinguishable. The penguin’s features change as he matures, replacing his down feathers with the yellow spots of an adult emperor penguin very much like the cute one seen in Learn to Fly 2. When the player gets to the breeding grounds after a long march, Parker starts a dialogue with his new partner Penelope. They waddle and dance together, later on producing an egg of their own.
The story goes on for three generations, ending the last one with the birth of a new chick named Parker. And thus the cycle, and the game, continues. Biology is by no means an easy subject to introduce to the preschool crowd –nevertheless, we give a thumbs up for the careful delivery and immersive interactive features of this app. The content is well-researched and there are plenty of cute, animation sequences. Its subtle introduction of intricate scientific ideas is quite refreshing as it does away with traditional textbook snippets, replacing them with lively character dialogue.
Rounds: Parker Penguin works for both the iPad and iPhone and is just the thing to add to your virtual library if you have a little one under the age of 8.