One of the new Living Books, D.W. the Picky Eater is the first Living Book starring Arthur's little sister D.W.. No longer just an interactive storybook, this one is considered an interactive adventure (storybook and activity center)- in fact, the main screen is D.W.'s bedroom. D.W. greets the user, then invites them to click on a number of activities in addition to watching and listening to the story unfold.
There are some wonderful improvements to the original Living Books program format. Now, kids can go directly to the page of their choice, and to the activity of their choice as well. The 5 activities are as follows:
- Sticker Fun: This can be played on each page of the interactive storybook kids can click on the words that are highlighted in blue, then choose an image from a page full of stickers that matches the selected word.
- Story-Maker: Kids get to choose from 3 different topics to create their own story, then complete sentences and choose pictures to go along with them. For example, after choosing a garden theme, kids must select from a number of endings to complete the sentence, "In my garden, I like to grow..." When they have completed their 3 page story, they can print it out.
- The Family Picnic: Kids help D.W. and Arthur select foods for their picnic. This activity familiarizes kids with the food groups as they are asked to click on certain foods to place on the plates. Notice the large plate of grains and the teeny weeny plate for dessert.
- Playhouse: Kids fill up a playhouse with stickers of furniture and characters from Arthur's family. After placing a character in one of the rooms, the character says something appropriate. Choose either to explore in a free-play mode or play a game (easy or hard) that involves placing different pieces of furniture in their correct places.
- Save the Garden: A fast-paced activity in which kids race to stop pesky gophers from eating all the plants. See how many you can click on before time is up.
The subject of the story will be familiar to many parents we've all been faced with children who refuse certain foods at some time or another. D.W.'s story is a cute one, with a good message as we've come to expect from the Arthur books and shows.
Our test family's 3 year-old daughter enjoys some of the program's activities, especially the decorating the playhouse one, but her mother feels that it won't have too much long-term appeal. My own children find it entertaining as well, and I am pleased with the activity that involves replacing words in the story with stickers this is an excellent pre-reading exercise. D.W. The Picky Eater would be most suitable as a first program for a preschooler, and particularly for an Arthur (and D.W.) fan. The activities are simple but fun, and the hotspots are plentiful.
The improved graphics and added options make it less like the original interactive storybooks that Living Books made so popular. What I miss from the older Living Books titles, though, is the multilingual format.
The Picnic activity provides a good opportunity to discuss the food groups with your child. The plates on the picnic table each hold a specific category of foods, and their size roughly corresponds to the recommended quantities of these food groups in an ideal diet! This is a cute and informative activity, although I wish there were difficulty levels to it that would make it more interesting to older children in the targeted age group.
Minimum requirements are a 486/66, 16 Mb RAM, and 2X CD ROM. Mac users need at least a 68040, 8 Mb RAM, and 2X CD ROM. The program requires 10 Mb of hard drive space.
pre-reading, reading, vocabulary, sentence building, storytelling, creativity, logic, nutrition, listening, memory, hand/eye coordination, keyboarding
The program is a simple introduction to the computer and quite good for teaching pre-reading skills connecting written words with their images, basic storytelling/making, vocabulary and more.
Most preschoolers should find the program rather enjoyable, particularly fans of the show and/or books. The characters are pleasant and the program is quiet and quite simple.
The interface is excellent, and there are a number of options that allow kids to go directly where they want to go whether it be straight to a favorite page of the story or to a particular activity. The storytelling can be "clicked through" (interrupted) which is great.
More variety or the addition of difficulty levels to the activities would have extended the replay value, but all in all, the program should appeal to the younger kids in the suggested 3-7 age group.
The program retails for $30 US.