Just Grandma and Me. (data base) (Software Review) (Compute's Getting Started with Multimedia Applications) (Evaluation)
by David English
When people ask me which CD-ROM applications best show off the potential of multimedia, I always mention Just Grandma and Me (Broderbund Software, 500 Redwood Boulevard, Novato, California 94948-6121; 800-521-6263; $54.95).
Like other children's programs that allow a child to explore a fun and interesting world (programs such as the Manhole, Cosmic Osmo, The Playroom, The Treehouse, Ready for Letters, and Kid Works), Just Grandma and Me is full of delighfful surprises that keep a child coming back for more. But unlike the other programs, Grandma uses the large capacity of the CD-ROM to offer Super-VGA graphics (640' 480 with 256 colors), detailed animations, and digitized dialogue, music, and sound effects.
Even more importantly, Grandma is fun. When the MPC (Multimedia Personal Computer) standard was being introduced in late 1990 and early 1991, Broderbund's demos of Just Grandma and Me were the biggest hit with the crowd.
To bring a page of Just Grandma and Me to life, you simply click on different places on the page. Click on any word and hear that word pronounced. Click on the mailbox and the door pops open, only to be quickly closed by a hand inside the box. Click on the tree across the road, and a bluebird flies out and dive bombs the cow.
Click on Grandma and she talks to Little Critter. Click on the fence and the fence boards start a wave that concludes by bumping Grandma in the rear. (Grandma responds with a matronly "Whooooo.") Click on the arrows at the bottom left and right of the page and you can move back or ahead a page.
It's so intuitive a 2 year old can get the hang of it (mine did). And its humor is so inventive that adults enjoy it as much as the children. My only complaint is that there are only 12 pages to the story. I wanted more.
More stories are on the way. Just Grandma and Me is the first in the Living Books series that Broderbund plans to release on both PC and Mac CD-ROM. This one is based on a children's book by Mercer Mayer. The next two books will be Arthur's Teacher Trouble by Marc Brown and The Tortoise and the Hare, a classic fable by Aesop. With many of the titles in the series, including Grandma, you'll be able to switch to Spanish or Japanese dialogue.
We hear a lot about interactive computer programs for children. No other kid's program sounds and looks this good, or offers as much warm-hearted humor.