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MarcoPolo Weather app review

marcopolo weather menuThree little anthropomorphic creatures — bunny Willow, bear Scout, and “hippo” (although he looks more like a goofy monster) Gorbie — teach kids about weather in free-play app MarcoPolo Weather (MarcoPolo, September 2014).

Icons at the top of the screen allow you to control weather, temperature, and day/night for the meadow where the critters play. By adjusting these factors, you create a wide range of conditions to which the animals and their environment respond. A toolbar of the three characters plus their clothing, accoutrement, and food appears at the bottom of the screen. This toolbar also adapts to the current conditions by offering warmer clothing options in colder temperatures, a flashlight at night, or an umbrella in the rain.

weather tent

Gorbie shelters from the rain

marcopolo weather rainbow

Scout appreciates a rainbow (and appropriate rain gear)

The animals’ reactions to the weather vary based on which character you are playing and whether or not they are appropriately dressed/accessorized: they shiver when underdressed for the cold or sweat when bundled up in the heat. I especially liked making it rain on poor Gorbie, who covered his head in dismay until I gave him an umbrella-fied hat and then hummed contentedly. The characters can also participate in seasonal activities like throwing snowballs or flying a kite.

Similarly, the environment and the objects you place into it show the effects of the weather. Place flowers into the meadow and rain on them to make them bloom; turn up the heat to make your winter-weather snowmen and igloo melt; watch a pinwheel spin faster when the wind blows harder. Small animals (owl, songbird, skunk, squirrel, etc.) in the habitat come and go according to the time of day and the season. A voiceover offers basic information on the meteorological conditions and how they are measured.

In a locked section you’ll find six language options — English, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, French, and Russian — provided, along with toggle switches for the narration and sound effects. The characters’ cute sounds are fairly universal (and non-verbal) things like yawns, giggles, and gasps, so they remain the same across language options. Also in the locked section are recommended weather-themed reading (nonfiction, fiction, and poetry) and several suggestions for real-world activities.

An engaging (if somewhat slight) way to learn about weather and about cause and effect. Available for iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini, and iPod Touch. Basic temperature and weather package is free; extreme weather (lightning storm, tornado, blizzard, and hurricane) is $1.99. Recommended for preschool and primary users.

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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