Subscribe to SLJ
Touch and Go
Inside Touch and Go

Review: ‘Penguin’s Family’ for iOS

Kathleen M. Hollenbeck’s Penguin’s Family is part of the 12-volume “Smithsonian Oceanic Collection,” (Soundprints) which offers young readers a close-up look at marine animals from puffers and penguins to swordfish and seals.

Now an app, Penguin Family will enlighten children about the life, habits, and vulnerability of the Humboldt penguin.

Title: Penguin’s Family: The Story of a Humboldt Penguin
Author: By Kathleen M. Hollenbeck
Illustrator: Daniel J. Stegos
Developed by:
Oceanhouse Media, Inc./Smithsonian Institution
Platform: iOS, requires 3.0 or later
Version: 1.08
Price: $2.99

Screen shot from 'Penguin's Family' (Stegos) Oceanhouse Media, Inc.

PreS-Gr 2- Hollenbeck’s beautifully told and illustrated fictional story will appeal to animal lovers and enrich science curriculums.

Readers and listeners follow the birth and the first steps in the life of a Humboldt penguin as they learn how these creatures, found along the coast of Peru and Chile, nest, protect and prepare their young for independence, and hunt for food. Stegos’s realistic artwork imparts additional information about the animal’s habitat and predators. Two pages at the end of the digital book provide facts about the waterfowls, referring to them as “endangered.” However, at present, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service lists them as “threatened.”

The app has three options: “Read it Myself,” which allows children to experience the book in traditional form; “Read to Me,” where listeners can follow the words as they are highlighted; and “Auto Play,” which features automatic page turns as a narrator reads. In each of these modes, youngsters are able to tap on the screen to see and hear words that describe the surroundings and the characters ( “rocks,” “Father Penguin,” etc.).

Screen shot from 'Penguin Family' (Stegos) Oceanhouse Media, Inc.

The soothing music and background ocean sounds add to the eBook experience, as does the opportunity to hear the young penguin’s cry, which sounds “low and squeaky, like the bray of a donkey.” The  calm and evenly paced narration will keep listeners’ attention. Although the eBook’s enhancements are minimal, the story and illustrations deliver an informative, enjoyable experience.–Shannon McClintock Miller, Van Meter Community School, Van Meter, IA