New Kid on the Block, The Download (1993 Educational Game)

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Jack Prelutsky's brilliant volume of humorous poems, The New Kid on the Block, adds a new dimension to Broderbund's award-winning Living Books series of kids' books on CD-ROM. Mom and Dad will get as big a kick out of this one as the kids. At the same time, Broderbund's sparkling adaptation of the poems to the multimedia screen adds a new dimension to the printed book.

You're going to like this one. I love it, my kids love it, and you'll love it. One warning, though: The game includes only 18 poems, a small fraction of the printed book's pages. You won't be able to help yourself--you'll have to rush out and buy the book, too, to get the rest of these great poems.

Prelutsky writes whimsically funny verse for kids of all ages. His acute sense of the musical sound of words and his masterful use of rhythm and rhyme make his poems cry out to be read aloud--as they are on this CD-ROM. If that were all, it would be a fine product, but, of course, that's not all.

This is a Living Book, one that starts with pages from a book and then adds voice, animation, music, and color. The printed book features engagingly simple illustrations by James Stevenson. Starting with these black-and-white line drawings and four lines of verse per screen, the poems come to life. A reader--Prelutsky himself on four of the poems--reads the words with appropriate expression while the drawing becomes animated to illustrate the words. In "When Tillie Ate the Chili," you see dragonlike flames coming out of Tillie's mouth, smoke coming from her nostrils, and steam coming out of her ears as the lines are read. These animations add judicious bits of color, sound effects, and music.

There's more than that to this Living Book, however. They call it interactive poetry. You can have the poems read to you, or you can play in the poems. In this latter mode, the reader performs the lines onscreen, and then you can explore. Clicking on objects onscreen usually brings out some brief but interesting or funny action. Clicking on the words in the text gets you the word spoken by the reader and often some new animated action in the illustration.

For example, let's consider the poem titled "The Diatonic Dittymunch," about a wacky creature that plucks music from the air and eats it. It swallows symphonies, sonatas, and cantatas. It makes ballads into salads and consumes them note by note. It eats marches, mazurkas, rhapsodies, reels, minuets, tarantellas, and even a three-act opera.

Click on the word rhapsody, and it floats onto the screen in a large, flowery script, accompanied by a few bars of an unmistakable musical rhapsody. The diatonic dittymunch manages to swallow the drifting word and the accompanying music, of course. In "Forty Performing Bananas," I learned the musical differences of cha-chas, fandangos, tangos, mambos, sambas, and waltzes. I'm not sure the antics of the 40 bananas will help you later distinguish between a samba and a cha-cha, but they're sure fun to watch.

There are hours of fun here, hearing and enjoying the poems and listening to Prelutsky sing one of his poems, "Alligators Are Unfriendly." He sings to entertain you if you take too long deciding which poem you want to hear next. As with any masterwork, every element of this program is consistent with the whole. The credits even roll to animations and an original piece of music.

There are only three kinds of people: Prelutsky fans, those who will be Prelutsky fans when they are exposed to him, and people with no sense of humor at all. Unless you're unfortunate enough to be in the last group, you need to download this game.

The New Kid on the Block is the fifth Living Books game with Sheila Rae, the Brave and it was based on the 1984 book by Jack Prelutsky, and was released in September 26, 1997. Instead of just one story, it is a collection of 17 poems.

How to run this game on modern Windows PC?

This game has been set up to work on modern Windows (11/10/8/7/Vista/XP 64/32-bit) computers without problems.


People who downloaded New Kid on the Block, The have also downloaded:
Tortoise and the Hare, The, Ruff's Bone, Just Grandma and Me, Berenstain Bears, The: In The Dark, Harry and the Haunted House, Little Monster at School, Sheila Rae the Brave, Arthur's Reading Race


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