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Review: ‘Our Amazing World: Penguins’

Who knew “penguins are incurable kleptomaniacs…?” I didn’t. From the chinstrap, with its distinctive black stripe, to the king, with its colorful markings, this app presents fascinating facts about a number of these aquatic birds.

Younger students would also be interested in Kathleen M. Hollenbeck’s Penguin’s Family, which examines the life and vulnerability of the Humboldt penguin in story format.

Title: Our Amazing World: Penguins
Wayne Lynch 
Photos by
: Wayne Lynch 
Developed by:
Matchbook Digital LLC
iOS, requires 3.2 or later 

Gr 4 Up-The stunning work of wildlife photographer Wayne Lynch will captivate viewers in this first app in the “Our Amazing World” series. Thirteen species of penguins are depicted nesting, swimming, courting, and foraging in locations across the Southern Hemisphere. Captions along the bottom of the screen identify the species depicted in each of the 60-plus images and the location of each shot. In several photos, the vivid black, white, and yellow colors of emperor penguins provide a striking contrast against a brilliant blue sky and the white antarctic ice. One impressive photo captures a rockhopper penguin yawning; visible is the surface of its pink tongue and mouth, covered with spines that help trap food.

Screen shot of a rockhopper penguin yawning (Lynch) Matchbook Digital

Navigation is easy: a horizontal swipe across the screen advances to the next photo; a tap on the screen pulls up a scrollable menu of thumbnail photos, and a vertical swipe delivers a detailed paragraph related to the image. The information includes interesting facts about the physical attributes, habitat, breeding habits, and diet of the featured penguins. The vocabulary (and lack of a glossary) make this app more appropriate for older students. There are no source notes or lists of related resources.

Nature lovers will be attracted to the breathtaking photographs, and the information will prove useful to students looking for an overview on the life cycle and habits of these birds. However, the lack of interactive features may limit the engagement of some users.—Cathy Potter, Falmouth Elementary School, Falmouth, ME