Milliken Storyteller Master Package. (educational software) (evaluation)
by Leslie Eiser
Tired of dodging bullets, hunting down murderers, and flying simulated spaceships through crowds of hostile invaders? How about some low-tech but enjoyable fun for you and your favorite preschooler? Milliken Storyteller Master Package will keep you and your youngster enthralled with fully digitized speech, amusing animated graphics, and a selection of well-illustrated stories. As a reward to readers who make it all the way through each story, there's even an onscreen picture to color.
Tons of digitized human speech and entertaining graphics and a warm dollop of standard children's stories combine to make Milliken's computerized storybooks fun to listen to or read. The stories themselves are slightly modernized versions of famous childhood standards, including "Little Red Riding Hood," "The Ugly Duckling," and "Henny Penny."
If you enable the program's speech capability, an optional underline mode lets your youngster follow along with the reader. Turn off the speech capabilities, and you still have three excellent stories beginning readers will love to recite to any parent willing to sit and listen. If you like, you can instruct the program to ask questions every few screens, just to make sure your child is way paying attention. Speech and music can be enhanced using a Covox Speech Thing, Creative Lab's SoundBlaster card, or the Ad Lib music card.
For all of its drama, sound, and graphics, however, Storyteller also has some omissions. For example, there's no printer support. Also, despite the generally excellent quality of the digitized voice, the speech routine is much too fast for preschoolers, even when slowed down by 20 percent. Skipped words or slurred speech, designed to provide dramatic highlights, often confuse beginning readers who must read every word. On a more academic level, the program's linear design doesn't take full advantage of the PC's ability to create an interactive environment.
Whether you and your child enjoy the Storyteller depends a lot on your child's natural inclinations. Kids who enjoy the security of knowing what will happen in a story won't mind the program's linearity. It's fun to read the stories out loud, and the clever animations are fun to watch. The reward sequences that come when children answer the questions correctly are positively enchanting. Children who are knowledgeable computer users may become bored after the initial thrill of hearing the computer talk. Parents will have to consider these factors when weighing the difference between this entertaining program and the hardcopy books that it brings to the PC.
IBM PC and compatibles, 384K RAM,
CGA, EGA, or VGA support-%9.95
Also available for the Apple IIgs $49.95). Milliken Storyteller Story Collection 1, including "Jack and the Beanstalk," Aladdin and the Magic Lamp," and Peter Rabbit" available for $24.95 Master Package required; also available for the Apple IIGs for $24.95).
1100 Research Blvd.
St. LoWs, MO 63132