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Review CornerSoftware
Huggly's Sleepover Thinking Adventures
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
Preschoolers will have a great time helping this amiable monster prepare for a sleepover party. This is a lighthearted and fun adventure that is less academic than entertaining, but it does incorporate some basic early thinking exercises. As well, it promotes a wonderfully constructive attitude toward problem solving.
 Award of Excellence
Ages: 4-6  Subject: Early Learning  Brand: Scholastic
Review Sections: Product Overview  Technically Speaking  Skills Covered  Educational Value  Entertainment Value  Design  Replayability  Dollar Value
 
 
image Product Overview
Huggly, the friendly "monster under the bed", enlists your young child's help in his adorable monster world. Preparations for the Annual Monster Sleepover Party are underway, and kids need to find pillows for the very special Monster Pillow Bounce game! Besides the quest for pillows, there are two stories to create, three pies to help prepare, and a poster to design.

The coveted pillows are easy enough to spot, but kids will generally need to solve a small problem in order to get them. This generally requires traveling to another area of the program in order to find an item that they can use to solve the problem. For example, kids will easily see the pillow peeking out of a locked trunk, but they must find the keys in order to open it and retrieve the pillow. When they find Baby Boomer clutching a pillow in the nursery, they must not only find a way to get to her, but also find something just as cuddly to trade the pillow for.

A standout activity is found in the kitchen where kids discover Uncle Zooba who is simply not in the mood to cook. This opens up an activity that has children exploring a range of emotions - from silly to sad to frustrated. Each of the 5 emotions has a related pie-making activity. For example, if children select the emotion silly, Uncle Zooba will toss the ingredients for the pie all over the kitchen, and children must move the mixing bowl around in order to catch them! If they choose sad, they'll find the monster in a sad frame of mind because he has forgotten where he put the letters of the alphabet to make an alphabet pie. Of course, players can set things right by finding the letters in their hiding places throughout the kitchen.

The activities are quite simple and require children to exercise basic thinking skills. Children will, for example, experiment with objects they might place on a plank in order to send Huggly flying through the air to catch a pillow stuck in a tree (the feather is simply too light, for example); follow a maze of stepping stones; sort bugs according to characteristics; and engage in a game of Monsters from Outer Space by catching objects that start with a given letter of the alphabet.

The adventure is very easy to complete — which is a pro and con at once. On the plus side, children won't easily get frustrated, but at the same time the longevity of the program is questionable. However, the world of monsters under the bed is a fun one with pickle pies, showers that spurt mud instead of water, and a bat mobile for the baby monster. The characters are very charming and always polite and helpful!

This adventure first appeared a few years ago as I'm Ready for Kindergarten: Huggly's Sleepover and is now updated for 2000. It comes together with early learning activities incorporating not only thinking skills, but also beginning math and reading concepts. An excellent program designed for children slightly older, Huggly Saves the Turtles: Thinking Adventures, is also available (see our review). We found the activities in the latter slightly more educational and engaging.

Technically Speaking
Minimum requirements are Win 95/98/2000, Pentium 90, 4X CD-ROM, 16 MB RAM. Mac users require a Power PC 90, 16 MB RAM, System 7.5.5, 4X CD-ROM. Requires 20 MB hard drive space. Color printer optional.

Skills Covered
Beginning math: counting, geometric shapes, pattern recognition, sequencing, logic, matching, sorting, classifying, concepts of weight (light, heavy), number reinforcement, ordering, size exploration (smallest to largest), number recognition; beginning reading: vocabulary, left to right tracking, phonics, sound recognition, letter identification; Thinking skills: problem solving, following directions, critical thinking, cause and effect; Visual discrimination: color recognition, object recognition, shape recognition, spatial reasoning, eye-hand coordination; Social skills: helping, sharing, cooperation; creativity.

Educational Value
Though the activities in the program require children to exercise some basic thinking skills and provide a little practice with phonics and letter recognition, the brain workout is not intensive.

Entertainment Value
This monster world is a colorful one that is brimming with polite and charming characters, and kid testers found them nothing short of adorable. The mission is quite simple, and won't easily frustrate young players.

Design
Young children shouldn't have any problem moving through the program. Children can be shown how to interrupt chatter with a press of the spacebar or Escape key on the keyboard.

Replayability
Though most kids will want to solve all of the monsters' problems and complete the adventure once, motivation to play through the game again will depend on your child's preferences.

Dollar Value
This program is certainly worth the comparatively small price tag of $14.95 US.

Released: 2000
Reviewed: February 2001