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Editor's Favorite CD-ROMs List for Christmas

by Kathy Aanestad

[This review was written in 2001]

Brøderbund, Living Books is one of my favorite software companies (recently acquired by The Learning Company) who's multimedia products are engaging, entertaining, educational and reliable. Most of their CDs are biplatform, contain interactive stories with lots of animation, sounds and music; learning activites, surprises, and some puzzles; develop reading, math, creativity, and logic skills. As the proud auntie of eleven nieces and nephews, I can vouch unequivocally for the following:

* Arthur's Computer Adventure
* Arthur's Birthday
* Arthur's Teacher Trouble
* Arthur's Reading Race
* Just Grandma and Me
* Harry and the Haunted House
* The Tortoise and The Hare
* The New Kid on the Block
* Stellaluna
* Sheila Rae the Brave
* Logical Journey of the Zoombinis
* Storybook Weaver

Oh, and then there are the totally excellent Dorling Kindersley multimedia CDs such as:

* The Way Things Work 2.0
* Encyclopedia of Nature 2.0
* Encyclopedia of Science 2.0
* Dinosaur Hunter
* Chronicle Encyclopedia of History
* Encyclopedia of Space
* The Ultimate Human Body 2.0
* The Ultimate 3D Skeleton
* History of the World
* Virtual Reality Bird, Cat, Dog, etc.

For more fun and learning, check out A.D.A.M., The Inside Story, an interactive anatomy program and family health guide. The cute part is you get to choose whether you want to enable the fig leave which cover the 'private' parts of the human male and female models. You also get to choose ethnicity and gender.

A.D.A.M. Software also puts out a wonderful CD titled Nine Month Miracle, a gentle yet informative and entertaining tool to teach children about the creation of and the different stages of development of a baby. Another CD to check out is entitled Life's Greatest Mysteries. Way cool!
Don't stop here. Cyberflix's Titanic: Adventure Out of Time let's you see in 3D detail an historically accurate replication of the entire vessel, inside and out, right down to the carpet, drapery, furniture, wallpaper, and so on. You play the part of a British secret agent onboard the R.M.S. Titanic as you match wits with an interactive cast of over 25 characters. Your mission could ater the 20th Century.

The Louvre Museum, Museums of the World for Kids (and adults too!) brings you up close to over 150 pieces of art. For example, an 8,000 year old Mesopotamian writing tablet, French painters of the 19th Century, a piece of the Parthenon, a self-portrait by Durer, a knight's embroidered cloak, etc. Full screen images accompanied by audio clips teach and entertain. You can zoom in for detail. Neat! A Passion for Art is about Post- Impressionist painters like Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse and Dr. Barnes.
Paul Cezanne Portrait of My World, Leonardo da Vinci and many more.

Reference libraries should contain any or all of the following:

* Deluxe Grolier Encyclopedia '99
* Encarta Deluxe Encyclopedia
* '99 World Book Encyclopedia with Voice Recognition--Family Reference Suite
* Eyewitness Children's Encyclopedia
* 3D Atlas 98--ABC World Reference
* Eyewitness World Atlas

Here's one that sounds interesting but I haven't tried it yet:
TimeCity Flashback Atlas, zoom in and out of other eras! Nine cities are featured, Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Stephen Jay Gould-On Evolution. Gould poses three riddles: Who was the naturalist onboard the Beagle? Why didn't Charles Darwin use the word "evolution"? and why did he delay so long in publishing the most radical notion in the history of biology?

On a more sombre note, the following CD reminds me of last month when I videotaped two San Dominico plays about the Holocaust, "Playing for Time" and "I Never Saw a Butterfly". This CD is entitled The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman. He won the Pulitzer Prize for a gripping, graphic account of his parents' survival of the Holocaust. Each page of Maus is linked to sketches, archival photographs, maps and drawings by prisoners. Interviews with Spiegelman and his father give unprecedented access to the historical and artistic details behind the book.

American History is represented by the following:

* The African-American Experience, Diverse Perspectives
* The Asian-American Experience, Asian-Americans Tell Their own Stories
* The Hispanic-American Experience, The Full Range of the Latino Experience Emerges
* The Immigrant Experience, Dramatic Personal Insights
* Women in America--a collection of letters, speeches, photos, works of art, articles, and selected audio readings
* The American Revolution
* The Civil War
* Westward Expansion
* The Great Depression and the New Deal
* The Constitution and Supreme Court

There are educational CDs on dissection of cats, crayfish, fetal pigs, earthworms, perch, and frogs in the Dissection Works Series. You see, this way the kids don't have to use real animals in order to 'get' the concepts. CDs about clouds and weather, Skyworks; Rocks and Minerals; Discover the Elements: The Interactive Periodic Table of Elements.
Medical CDs abound:

* Homeopathic Remedy Finder
* AMA Family Medical Guide
* The Herbalist
* Traditional Chinese Medicine and Pharmacology
* Child Well Being
* Human Anatomy
* Virtual Human
* The Doctor's Dilemma
* Essentials of Immunology
* Radiologic Anatomy
* Microscopic Anatomy
* Clinical Pharmacology

Are you still with me? Isn't this great! Let's touch upon some more educational CDs for your kids that deal with math.

* Pre-Algebra World
* Albebra World
* The Trigonometry Explorer
* Jr. High School Success (deals with pre-algebra blaster, spell it, grammar games, multimedia workshop, probability, mental math tricks, and money management)
* Math Heads
* Math Express
* Math Advantage Deluxe
* Basic Accounting
* Differential Calculus
* Pre Calculus
* Integral Calculus
* Easy Statistics

For the little tykes and middle-age kids (K-8), there are tons of CDs for reading, spelling, and math.

* Treasure Seekers
* Trail Adventure Collection
* Oregon Trail 3rd Edition: Pioneer Adventures
* Amazon Trail II
* Clue Finder's 4th Grade Adventures
* The American Girls Premiere: 2nd Edition
* Mega Munchers
* Word Munchers Deluxe
* Math Munchers Deluxe
* Reader Rabbit's Reading 1&2 (and Journey K-1, Journey 1-2, Journey 1-3)
* Reader Rabbit's Toddler 2.0
* Reader Rabbit's Preschool 2.0
* Reader Rabbit's Kindergarden 2.0
* Reader Rabbit's 1st Grade (2nd Grade)
* The Parts of Speech
* The Punctuation Marks
* Gold Medal Math
* the Curious George series of CDs
* The Math Majors
* Turbo Math Facts
* Language Explorer

Other series include:

* Madeline Preschool & Kindergarten Deluxe
* Madeline 1st and 2nd Grade Deluxe
* Madeline Thinking Games Deluxe
* School House Rock 2st-4th Math Deluxe and School House Rock 3rd & 4th Grade Essentials Deluxe

Then there's Stickybear's:

* Spelling
* Reading Fun Park
* Math Splash
* Science Fair: Light, Kindergarten Activities, Reading Comprehension, Word Problems* Science Fair: Sound

Nature CDs include:

* Learning About Animals
* Rainforest Explores
* My First Amazing Animals
* My First Amazing Words and Pictures
* My First Amazing World Explorer to name a few.

As far as clip art goes, you can't beat Nova's 250,000 sensational images called Art Explosion 250,000.
A couple programs I couldn't live without are Photoshop, ClarisWorks (now called AppleWorks) and FileMaker Pro. All biplatform with wonderful books to aid with the learning.

Games. That's what I'm forgetting. Not for long. My favorite game of all time is Shanghai-Dragon's Eye by Activision where you match various tiles faces (alphabet, animals, fantasy, flags, hanafuda, hilo, lohi, Mahjongg, sports) and can select from a variety of layouts (such as boar, dog, dragon, horse, monkey, ox, rabbit, ram, rat, rooster, snake, tiger, Shanghai) accompanied by various sound effects. I give it an A++. If you match all the tiles, your fortune is revealed from an animated fortune cookie. Spin-offs of Shanghai-Dragon's Eye are Shanghai Dynasty CD and Mah-Jong Parlour. Oh, I do like Civilization and Connections with James Burke.

I'm not one for action games like Warcraft, Command and Conquer, Myst, Deer Hunter, Tomb Raider, Duke Nukem, Riven, etc. A little too much blood and guts for me. There are games of golf, football, basketball, baseball, bowling, car racing, and so on with joy sticks, steering wheels and foot pedals to enhance the experience. So have fun with your selections!

You can also find most of these CDs in your favorite mail-order catalog or your favorite online catalog.
Here's a secret. I usually wait for MacWorld Expo in S.F. to get my CDs! Most of the vendors have really good prices and LOADS to choose from. Again, most, if not all, of the CDs mentioned are multiplatform.
Have fun!
--your newletter editor, Kathy Aanestad

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