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spacer all reviews > > > interactive book software

Eddie & Minx Waking Up the Magic

Birchtree Multimedia

Ages 5 and Up

Rating Scale
5 = great,    1 = poor
Educational Value
3.5
Kid Appeal
3.5
Ease of Use
4.5

Eddie & Minx Waking Up the Magic Screen Shot System Requirements

PC Price Survey

Product Support

Eddie & Minx Waking Up the Magic is a rudimentary, but interesting effort at creating an interactive storybook. In the current software world of high-level graphics and fancy programming, Eddie & Minx lacks the pizzazz of the more sophisticated programs. At the same time, however, its simplicity is its main strength. It takes a step back, and tells a compelling tale that children will enjoy.

Eddie and Minx are ten-year old twins who live on a deserted island with their off-beat aunt and uncle. They must behave or Aunt Gwynifreda will feed them the dreaded banana stew, and she and Uncle Copernicus will suspend their exploration privileges. But Eddie has a burning desire to learn more about their parents, and try as she might to deny it, Minx shares his curiosity. After all these years the twins know better than to ask their guardians. Only one option is left for them -- they will have to break one of the cardinal rules of their simple existence. No matter how dangerous it might sound, no matter how devious they might need to become, there is no other answer for them. They will have to snoop!

And so begins the tale, which is split into a series of chapters, each chapter ending with a comprehension test, and various educational activities. Unfortunately, the story itself is not particularly well-written. The author consistently breaks the rules of good writing technique, mixing tenses and constructing awkward and unwieldy sentences. It is, however, compelling, and characters instantly take on unique identities.

The activities, as well, are mediocre at best. For the most part they consist of memorization and matching drills. Kids who fail at completing the activities with 100% accuracy after 3 trials must repeat the previous chapter. This caused some of our kid testers to lose interest -- and defeats the purpose of the program, which is to share information and encourage learning in a kid-friendly environment.

Educational Value
Eddie & Minx Waking Up the Magic focuses on listening skills and reading comprehension, as well as identification and memorization. Activities require kids to listen and focus their attention. This accomplished, kids are then drilled on previously presented information.

The educational value of this program could be greatly increased by adding a highlighting option to the story text. Kids could then read along with the narrator, thereby working on reading skills. In the same way, an option allowing the user to turn the narration off would improve the programís versatility and value as a teaching tool.

Kid Appeal
The story pages in Eddie & Minx Waking Up the Magic consist of a left text-filled sidebar and an illustration on the right that changes infrequently and contains a few simple click-on animations. The illustrations are stylistically interesting, but again overly basic for todayís kids who take cartoon quality animation for granted. While our kid testers described the program as "quirky" and "weird," they did like the story, and continued to use the program in an effort to see where it would lead. "I liked the characters and the descriptions," was one testerís comment, "It taught me world geography, too."

Ease of Use / Install
Eddie & Minx Waking Up the Magic installed quickly and easily on our test machine. System requirements are minimal, making it very accessible to users with lower-end machines.

Program navigation is straightforward -- back and forward buttons at the bottom of the story screen allow the user to move through the program as desired. SuperKidsí testers complained that the sound level was low, and cannot be raised from within the program. They had to quit the program and use the Windows volume control to comfortably hear the program narration.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
This program is not glitzy and lacks the cartoon quality animation and diverse activities found in many other programs of the same genre. Its highlights include an interesting story and low-level system requirements. Because of its quieter approach, it might also benefit a child who doesnít handle the overstimulation caused by some programs.

See SuperKids' comparisons with other interactive book software titles, and the Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC-only version.

System Requirements
PC: Windows 95, Pentium 90 or faster cpu, 8 MB RAM, SVGA Card and Monitor (640 x 480, 256 colors), Double-speed or faster CD-ROM, Sound Blaster or 100% compatible sound card.

Reviewed on:

  • Pentium166 with 48MB and 12XCD
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