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Inside Touch and Go

Barefoot World Atlas

Every so often an app appears that stops us in our tracks. Emails go unanswered and lunches are postponed while we pass the iPad around the office. In engagement, presentation, and visuals, The Barefoot World Atlas is one of those titles. Author Nick Crane refers to the iPad experience of his book as a “free-roaming interactive world” where users “create their own journey.” For a walk through the features found on this app, read Cathy Potter’s review below. (She reports she had to pry the tablet out of her son’s hands to write her evaluation.)

Title: Barefoot World Atlas
Nick Crane
David Dean
Published by:
Barefoot Books, Inc.
Developed by:
Touch Press LLP and Barefoot Books, Inc.
Platform: iOS, requires 5.o or later 
Price: $7.99

K-Gr 5-Based on the Barefoot Books World Atlas (Barefoot Books, 2011), this stunning title takes full advantage of the iPad’s interactive capabilities. Upon opening the application, an illustrated, 3-D globe appears. Mountains, oceans, lakes, and forests are painted onto the Earth’s surface in a range of bright colors. A swipe to the screen spins and tilts the globe, with a pinch and a pull, viewers zoom in for a closer look.

Children won’t be able to resist tapping the colorful animated images that rise above the landmasses and ocean surfaces as they circle the planet. The illustrations represent various aspects of an area or country (wildlife, landmarks, recreation, transportation, etc.). A jeep bounces over the Malawian landscape, tundra swans fly above the Arctic, and children kick a soccer ball about in Portugal. A touch to any illustration will enlarge it as a description of the item, animal, or scene opens on the right of the screen. If they choose, viewers can have this text read aloud. Tapping an icon accesses a corresponding photograph of the image. Photographs from the Gems and Jewels app (Touch Press) and the British Geographical Society, which accompany several entries, can be rotated 360 degrees. An entry about Charles Darwin includes an image of the naturalist’s pocket sextant that can be viewed from various angles.

Readers explore regions and/or countries by selecting from icons at the top of the screen. A touch to the flag reveals an alphabetical menu of sovereign nations. When a country is selected, the globe rotates to that location. Live data about each nation appears of the screen including the current time, temperature, and its distance in miles from the viewer’s location. Additional facts include population, highest point, number of cars owned per 1000 persons, and average carbon dioxide emissions per person, per yearall of which make for fascinating reading and comparisons. Older children will enjoy comparing country statistics in the scrollable list that opens upon tapping on a fact. As users travel around the world, the pleasing background music changes to reflect the cultures and countries they visit. (A settings menu allows readers to turn off the narration, music, features, and flags.)

The Barefoot World Atlas is a highly engaging, educational experience and one that warrants repeat visits.—Cathy Potter, Falmouth Elementary School, Falmouth, ME