Rounds: Parker Penguin is a delightful universal app that nicely blends elements of Life Sciences into the story of penguin life in Antarctica, the second in a series of Rounds apps from Nosy Crow.
Rounds: Parker Penguin wonderfully captures the life cycle of these creatures from birth to procreation, depicting three generations of offspring.
There are two basic ways of exploring Rounds: Parker Penguin. In Read and Play, follow along with highlighted text as one listens to narration. Tap the screen to interact with surroundings, especially looking for blue dots used to highlight interactive hotspots, also keeping in mind that Parker and other characters may also speak if touched.
In Read to Myself, the use of sound effects and music are still included, but the text is silenced allowing children to read to themselves, including the added dialogue of the penguins, now seen only as speech bubbles.
I really appreciate all the polish that has been included within the Rounds apps, as the interactions bring not only richness to this story but their actions often propel the narrative and are never random or distracting in any way and sometimes going beyond a tap or drag to create wonderful moments which add important facts or details to this application.
The palette used of blue, white and shades of grey captures Antarctica beautifully, as do the stylized illustrations with a heavy use of circles and half circles that I have come to expect from the Rounds series.
I admire the slow pacing of this app, as children will need to take their time allowing moments to unfold, tapping characters more than once to hear extra penguin facts. The included musical score, sound effects and whale sounds found within the ocean all work together to create a thoroughly relaxing experience children and adults will enjoy a great deal.
Although one can turn the pages at any time, this function is asleep and needs to be tapped twice to forward the pages before everything has been explored within, then becoming black and bouncing, letting readers know it is safe to turn the page - an inclusion I greatly appreciate.
As gentle as this app is, children will also have a lot of fun with the speed Parker can slide or swim, yet maintaining the serene environment - an element that has mild arcade elements while sustaining a relaxing tone. Likewise, I enjoy helping Parker feed, as he swims after little fish yet avoids larger fish who may also be hungry, nicely touching upon predator and prey in a way that is sensitive and age-appropriate.
As this app progresses, Parker grows into an adult and goes on a march looking for a mate. I love the music and dance used to express the mating ritual of these animals as well as the egg passing made famous by the movie March of the Penguins.
When it is time, help the egg hatch with a tap, learning about baby penguins along the way as this new penguin grows into adulthood as well, mating and becoming a father himself.
Three generations of penguins are included with different names but same life experiences as this app cycles over to great effect. I do wish, however, that parents had a choice to end the app after three generations if they choose to in order to create an endpoint often found helpful in reining in their children, especially at bedtime.
Even with this mild note, Rounds: Parker Penguin will be a wonderful addition to any digital library. The writing is thoughtful and is quite conversational, delivering facts about penguins that will stay with children for a long time.
I have also greatly enjoyed the first app in this series Rounds: Franklin Frog. I hope to see more of these apps in the future as they are top-notch in every way and are screen time that adults can feel good about.