The Barefoot World Atlas, written by geographer and BBC personality Nick Crane and whimsically illustrated by David Dean, was released in hardcover late last year to much acclaim. Now Touch Press, best known for it’s seminal iPad app, The Elements, and other educational digital books like March of the Dinosaurs and The Waste Land, have infused their digital magic into a 3-D globe app that takes children on an intercontinental journey leaving no corner of our planet unexplored.
Kids can spin the virtual globe to navigate Earth freely, or browse by region, country or “features” which consists of a mixture of landmarks, people, flora and fauna. There is also a favorites section to save places of special interest.
The facts are powered by Wolfram Alpha and suply the information one expects from an atlas and are updated live. The art and extensive but bite-sized audio clips by Crane breathe life into those stats. Hundreds of photographs, an ever-changing soundtrack, and tons of touch-points round out the content and make the experience an immersive one.
While the app is decidedly British and its biggest market is likely the U.S., my only complaint is that it uses only the Imperial system. An option for the Metric system ought not be too complicated, and would make this a more genuinely global package.
Notwithstanding, The Barefoot World Atlas is a treat for eyes, ears and curious minds. Children are drawn to the simple UI, Dean’s delightful illustrations and Crane’s mellifluous voice and most parents can’t resist them either.