by Marta Isaacson

SUBJECT AREA: Children's Literature, Multicultural Education, Language Arts

PUBLISHER: Davidson (800)545-7677 COST: $59.95


SPECIAL HARDWARE REQUIREMENTS: IBM: Windows 95 with 8 MB RAM or Windows 3.1 with 4 MB RAM, double-speed (2X) CD-ROM drive, and Windows-compatible sound card.

Macintosh: System 7.1 or higher, 6MB RAM with 3 MB free, and double-speed (2X) CD-ROM drive.

EDUCATIONAL GOALS: To encourage reading and listening skills, while learning about different cultures, customs and peoples.

DESCRIPTION: The Magic Tales Collection consists of six tales which have been taken from different cultures, three of which are reviewed here. The main characters are rewarded for their courage and effort in demonstrating responsibility to others. In Baba Yaga and the Magic Geese, a Russian folk tale, a young girl saves her brother from a wicked witch. In the African tale, Imo and the King, a boy is able to pass three tests of the King with the help of friends whom he makes through performing generous acts. The Little Samurai, a Japanese folk tale, presents us with a small boy standing up to an ogre and growing bigger by his unique act of kindness to a young princess. Each story is presented by "Grandpa Mouse" who provides three options: 1) A child may have the story read directly by Grandpa Mouse while the words are highlighted onscreen, 2) The child may play with the story by interacting with each scene, clicking on objects to see animals talk, objects change colors, and statues come to life, and 3) The final option allows the child to go to any specific page.

STRENGTHS: These interactive stories are wonderful. The colors are lush and bright. The music is upbeat and snappy. All of the scenery appears true to the cultures depicted. The way the objects move after being clicked on in the "Play" mode are whimsical and humorous to both child and adult sensibilities. The stories are folk tales which are at times larger than life. The moral lessons are presented with positive consequences for ethical behaviors. Each CD-ROM comes with a copy of the story book and an extensive classroom activity guide for teachers.

Imo and the King
The first screen from Imo and the King.

WEAKNESSES: A faster CD-ROM drive may eliminate the problem of the dark blank screen that comes on between scenes and lasts several seconds. Children may need to be reminded to wait. It would be helpful if the words of the songs played within the scenes were displayed on the screen along with the story text.

SUMMARY: The Magic Tales Collection is delightful in every aspect. The activities are fun and interesting for the children and the programs are easy to use. The technical aspects of color, music and story mesh beautifully. Support for parents and teachers is excellent.

Magic Tales Screenshot

Marta Isaacson is a graduate student in the Department of Special Education at The College of New Jersey.

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