The Big Spill


Available in the App Store

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Based on a true story, this endearing tale tells of the journey three African penguins who had the misfortune of being caught in an oil spill must go on to return home. In June 2000, near Cape Town, South Africa, the ship Treasure sank spilling her cargo of oil. The Big Spill is an iPad only e-book that tells the story of Percy, Pamela and Peter, three African penguins as they are rescued, cleaned and released far from home.

The Big Spill contains three options for enjoying the story; Read it Myself, Read to Me and Auto Play. Narration of the story and interactive objects is easy to understand. Text is highlighted during narration; however, highlighting does move faster than the narration of the words. To be truly beneficial to beginning readers, the highlighting and narration need to move together. Also, it would be nice if the narration could be repeated by touching the text of the story.

In addition to the telling of the three penguins’ journey, the last page of the story contains interesting facts about African penguins.

Navigation features are not visible on the screen. Touching on the left or right side of the page turns the page; a navigation menu is available at the bottom of every page enabling the user to quickly jump between pages. If you are not sure how to navigate through the story, a brief in-app help is available in the Information and Settings. In this menu, options are also available for Read to You, Auto Page and Sound. All external links are contained in this area. One suggestion for the developers would be to change the appearance of the information and settings button, on the main screen, and consider moving it away from the story buttons. Young users may mistake it for one of the story options due to it being similar in appearance.

Bottom line

The Big Spill is an endearing story of three African penguins whose lives are changed due to an oil spill.

This beautiful app has been built for the iPad, with real life sound, read-along and automatic paging.

It features clear and precise English narration by Lisa Templeton, words and concept by Linda Fellowes and artwork by Tee.

This tale is based on the true story of the ship the ‘Treasure’, which sank in June 2000 just north of Cape Town, and caused a huge oil slick (1300 tonnes of oil) that harmed thousands of sea birds. People came from far and near to help rescue the penguins in an enormous clean-up operation driven by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, the Avian Demography Unit at UCT, SANCCOB and WWF amongst others. About 43 000 penguins were rescued in total, of those about 20 000 were oiled. The clean penguins were shipped from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth by truck to swim back to Cape Town (with some luck, because no one knew for sure what they would do, but they were counting on their strong homing instinct) in order to buy time to clean the beaches and the sea.

Regular Price: 2.99