The second entry in Nosy Crow's series of life cycle apps, Rounds: Parker Penguin introduces children to biology by sharing a non-fictional story about Parker's journey into adulthood. Kids learn all about surviving in the Antarctic by helping the young emperor penguin survive and hunt for food. The device's accelerometer is used to make Parker slide and dive into the icy waters, with touch controls to bring him to safety when there are bigger predators lurking about.
After marching for miles, the penguin then reaches the breeding ground for his species. As an adult, he sings to attract a mate. Penelope responds to his call and soon, they also have an egg of their own to protect. Their son, Percy, then starts the cycle all over again. There are three generations of penguins to play, with plenty of well-researched facts about the animals and their natural habitat to discover.
Since the game is designed to be accessible even for preschool kids, there are two settings to choose from before starting Parker's journey. The first one, named "Read and Play", allows a child to hear a narration while they proceed through the story. This helps early readers relate what they hear with the words that they see on screen. The second option is called "Read by Myself". In this style of play, the narration is removed altogether. That way, kids can read the text themselves with the benefit of having all the sound effects and background music there to set the tone of the story.
One of the best things about Rounds: Parker Penguin is its relaxed pace. Children can take their time to explore every section of the app, discovering fun facts related to the characters and their home. Exploration is highly encouraged, as turning a page that still has text to be read requires a double tap. Interactive objects are marked by a blue dot, consistent with the circles used to represent the overall look of the series. Children unfold the story themselves by participating in Parker's daily activities. For example, they initiate a dialogue between characters by tapping on the penguins. Because there is no time limit per scenario, kids can spend as much time waddling, sliding or diving before proceeding to the next part of the story.
Due to its careful delivery of sensitive content, the app is perfect for very young kids. Scenes are depicted in the most simple, seemingly sanitized way. Penguins waddle and dance to the music on one page and then an egg is already on hand in the next. Basically, the blanks are there and parents are given the floor to explain things in detail if they wish.
If you are looking for an educational non-fiction story that is safe for your young child's virtual library, then Rounds: Parker Penguin is truly a masterpiece. The app delivers plenty of interesting facts and life lessons yet it manages to stay simple enough to be relatable to its target audience. The interactive sequences are fun and the wintery scenes are quite festive, fitting in with the holiday season. The highlighted text and lively narration is a great supplement for early readers too. If you have an iPad or iPhone, this app is a great way to start off your child's love for nature and science.
Nosy Crow’s Rounds: Parker Penguin has a 4+ rating on the iTunes store and is targeted at children below the age of 8. It features accurate scientific facts about the Antarctic, delivered in hundreds of lively dialogue by child actors as well as original music by Robin Beanland, a BAFTA award-winning composer.