Targeted toward children ages three to eight, Peter and the Wolf introduces young audiences to the world of classical music. Included on the CD-ROM are interactive activities designed to teach music appreciation, instrument sounds, and more. Children can also learn at their own pace, with the option to select specific segments or favorite characters at any time. Sergei Prokofiev's classical composition is performed by the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, with story narration by actor Tony Randall.
One of my earliest memories of classical music was a first grade field trip to see the local symphony production of Peter and the Wolf. I remember the bus ride and arriving at what seemed like the most beautiful, luxurious theater in the world. The seats were plush and so was the narrator's voice. I sat in rapt attention as the story of naughty little Peter and his animal friends came to life through music. I still have a soft spot in my heart for French horns all because of the hapless wolf. I have been a fan of classical music ever since this first magical, musical experience.
When I received this software for review, I was a little wary. How in the world could a computer program compare with that first symphony experience? If children were introduced to a cyber Peter, would they be able to enjoy the Peter I was so enchanted with many 30 years ago? The answer is yes, and more. IBM's Peter and the Wolf will only serve to whet a child's appetite for more. He or she will begging for that first trip to the symphony.
I don't know how the folks at 7th Level do it, but they keep topping themselves. Peter and the Wolf is a magnificent romp "inside" the story. The child enters a symphony hall, (that looks remarkably like the one I visited, complete with velvet curtains) and the show begins. The child may start and stop the action and watch and rewatch any part or character of the program he prefers. The many clickpoints provide everything from sight gags to learning opportunities. For instance, click on the orchestra pit and the child may listen to each instrument individually. Peter guides his young guest around the theater and backstage making navigation extremely easy for even the youngest 3 year old.
The Hudson Philharmonic provides the music. None of the usual hokey synthesized stuff, the music is rich, full and beautiful. Children will be immediately drawn to the sights and sounds of Peter and his friends. Tony Randall's narration completes the sound package. His voice is as velvet and warm as my childhood memories.
The animation is absolutely flawless. The characters are friendly and funny, without being condescending to children. It is obvious that the designers appreciate a child's intelligence and sense of humor. The art is reminiscent of an old cartoon, carefully crafted with skill and joy. No choppy movements, the characters are smooth, even on my little home computer.
Peter and the Wolf is incredibly interactive. Wherever the child clicks something funny or interesting happens. Music appreciation games and interactive overviews keep the program interesting, even for a three year old. Older children will love to watch the story all the way through and focus on specific instruments. A child could play with this program 100 times in a 100 different ways without losing interest.
I loved Peter and the Wolf. My children did too. I can't recommend it highly enough. It is the perfect introduction to the grown-up world of classical music, in an intelligent and fun context. IBM and 7th Level have hit upon a remarkable idea. I would love to see what they could do with Beethoven. Keep it coming guys.
IBM's Peter and The Wolf is shown as two stories in one. The present-day Peter does not want to go to the symphony with his grandfather who thinks the spectacle will appeal to his grandson. In the Grand Hall, Peter and his grandfather are seated in one of the balconies in front of the large red curtains that hide the scene. At this point, children will have the possibility to explore the entire room with a point-and-click interface. They can click the characters shown on the screen, the audience, balconies, etc.. and on the characters from the Peter and The Wolf's story. Children discover dozens of animations bundled with humor, voices and great music.
The story itself is divided in several segemnts. Each time a segment ends, new animations become available to reward the child. The educative part of the program shows a series of instruments used in the symphony. When kids click on one of them, they will hear the instrument performing a music score from the Prokofiev's masterpiece.
There is also a bubble-game where they have to match sounds to instruments and characters, improving their musical knowledge at the same time.
This new version of Peter and The Wolf is presented with dozens of very funny animations that captivate children's attention. Everything is designed to bring kids into the story with an astonishing talent.
This is the story of "Peter and the Wolf" told using voices, music and animations. It is intended for young children and tries to teach them music appreciation. It is narrated by Tony Randall. In addition to the main story, you can click on one of the characters from the story to see just their part. You can also click the orchestra to get to click on some instruments to here them play selections from the symphony. There is also a matching game accessed by clicking the theatrical masks at the bottom of the stage.
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