Last Friday, I reviewed Rounds: Franklin Frog, a unique app that has successfully impressed me with its innovative approach in presenting a non-fictional story to our juniors. It is a part of the Rounds series, a new set of apps developed by Nosy Crow to explain the life cycles of animals. Just like a circle, all Rounds apps feature stories that end exactly where it start.
Today, I will share with you the second app in the innovative Rounds series, entitled Rounds: Parker Penguin. It shares the same design philosophies as the first app and offers an interesting explanation of the life cycle of penguins through the story of Parker and his descendants.
Round and Round It Goes
The story starts by introducing Parker, an emperor penguin and the main character of the story. He lives in the cold continent of Antarctica where icebergs are abundant. Throughout the story, you will learn more about Parker and his habitat, along with other animals who live in the South Pole.
While penguins are still considered birds, they do not fly. Because of this, Parker prefers to walk, slide or dive. Penguins are also aquatic birds and they can dive underwater to go hunting for smaller fishes. However, they do have to be on the lookout for leopard seals and killer whales who prey on them.
As Parker grows into adulthood, yellow and orange patches start to appear around his ears and throats. He also grows taller. These attributes set him apart from the younger penguins.
Soon, Parker prepares himself for mating season, during which penguins must go on a long march (up to 75 miles) to reach the breeding ground. Alongside other male penguins, Parker starts making sounds to attract female penguins. Penelope is attracted to Parker's calling and willing to become his mate.
As soon as Penelope lays an egg, she goes for a long trip to find meals for her junior. It is the job of male penguins to protect their eggs from blizzards, cold winds and rain storms, sometimes for up to 60 days without eating a single meal. Parker spends this long period by huddling with the other male penguins to stay warm.
When Penelope arrives, the egg is ready to hatch and a young fluffy penguin named Percy is born. He has an additional set of grey feathers that cover him from the cold weather. Because these feathers are not waterproof like those of an adult penguin, young Percy needs to stay away from ice and water.
Soon afterwards, Percy's down start to fall off, indicating his readiness to live on his own. In the end, Percy would become an adult penguin and mate with Pippa. Percy and Pippa would beget Peter, who would mate with Pearl and beget Parker. Hence, the life cycle of the penguins continues round and round.
Parents Need to Know
Staying true to the design philosophies of the Rounds series, Rounds: Parker Penguin successfully introduces the life cycle of penguins, their habitat, ways of living and other fun facts. Eager to know more about their reasoning behind the series, I asked a few questions to the developers. Tom Bonnick, their Digital Project and Marketing Manager, was kind enough to provide me with answers. Here are some of our discussions via e-mail:
Eric: How do you decide the animals that you feature in the stories? Why Penguins, after Frogs?
Tom: The frog and penguin were two of the initial ideas that the writer and illustrator pair who created Rounds, Barry and Emma Tranter, brought to us. In order to make the apps as interesting, different from each other, and uniquely educational as possible, we wanted animals that underwent different sorts of transformations, exhibited different and unusual sorts of behaviour, belonged to different species groups, lived in dramatic environments and used different methods to eat, travel, breed, and so on.
Eric: What is the single most important message that you want to get across with the Rounds series?
Tom: The purpose of the apps is really about inspiring an early enthusiasm for science and nature in young children, teaching them a little bit about each animal, and having fun through the story and the interactivity.
Eric: Why did you decide to include the concept of predator and prey in the stories?
Tom: We never considered not including it - the concept of predator and prey is an integral one to every animal's story: everyone is somewhere on a food chain, after all. Obviously we didn't want to make the focus of that part of the story too gruesome or morbid (and so the predators of Franklin Frog and Parker Penguin can never "succeed" in eating their prey) but we did feel it was important to include in some way.
Things I Like
Similar to Franklin Frog, Parker Penguin also contains a lot of fun facts regarding penguins and their habitats. As a geek, I always enjoy reading these facts. As a parent, I really appreciate the efforts that went into making the apps junior-friendly.
I also find Parker Penguin to be a good way to tell the stories of the penguin family. I'm sure that many juniors would be intrigued to learn that penguins are still classified as birds, even though they cannot fly and prefer to dive underwater to hunt for its meals.
Rounds: Parker Penguin is a beautiful non-fictional story about a family of penguins, their habitat and their life cycles. I learned a lot about penguins through this app and I believe that it provides a good medium for juniors to learn about the subject. I am looking forward for the next app in the Rounds series.
Get Rounds: Parker Penguin on the App Store.
Note: Thank you to the wonderful people at Nosy Crow for providing us with the promo code for their Rounds series apps and to Tom Bonnick for sharing some of the insights that went into the design process. Both Camila and I really enjoy the series.