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Reader Rabbit Preschool Sparkle Star Rescue!

The Learning Company

Ages 3 to 5

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

Reader Rabbit Preschool Screen Shot arrow indentSystem Requirements

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Reader Rabbit and sidekick, Sam the Lion, are asked by Spark from Sparkalot for help. The pi-rats have stolen the stars from the sky, and stashed them in Mt. Brill. With the user's help, Reader and Sam must find five hidden 'brillites' that can be used to set the stars free. Each of these gems is found by by correctly completing an educational (but fun) activity.

Educational Value

The five activities in Star Sparkle Rescue consist of:

  • comparing qualities (shapes, colors, patterns)
  • following oral directions (painting specified shapes, specified colors)
  • counting and number recognition
  • letter and sound recognition
  • creativitiy (designing a simple dance).

    Each of these activities is presented with clear oral instructions. Correct answers are rewarded with positive feedback ("Good job!"); incorrect answers are responded to with helpful suggestions. With demonstrated proficiency, the program presents increasingly difficult challenges. For example, after correctly recoginzing the beginning letters of labelled objects, the labels disappear, the the user must recognize the name of the object.

    The activities are all age-appropriate for pre-schoolers to perhaps early knidergartners. No reading is needed to use the program.

    Kid Appeal

    Star Sparkle Rescue combines excellent animation, verging on Saturday morning cartoon quality, with a pleasant music track. Our young testers were captivated by the program, and returned to the program repeatedly, even after collecting all the brillites required to free the stars from the pirates. This program is a complete replacement for the earlier versions of Reader Rabbit Preschool.

    Ease of Use / Install

    Star Sparkle Rescue requires that the user's computer have Microsoft DirectX 8, a 2MB software update released in November 2000. For most users of older machines, installation (included on the disk) should not cause a problem. However, on our Windows 98 test machine, we ran into the dreaded 'blue screen of death', where even a hard reboot failed to bring our computer back to life. We had to re-install our video driver -- not a user friendly occurrence!

    Another challenge awaits users with newer machines running Windows 98. Something in the Star Sparkle Rescue program wipes out the built-in encryption capabilities of Internet Explorer 5.5, used by that program to make secure electronic connections over the Net. The Learning Company has issued a fix for this problem, in the form of a downloadable patch on their website. If you install the program on a Windows Me machine, make sure you download and install the patch.

    Aside from these two problems, the program ran without difficulties for our youg testers.

    Best for... / Bottom-Line

    Reader Rabbit Preschool Sparkle Star Rescue1 is a wonderfully designed program for pre-kindergarten children.

    See SuperKids' comparisons with other Preschool software titles, and the Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.

    System Requirements
    PC: Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP, Pentium 166MHz or faster cpu, 100 MB hard drive space, 32 MB RAM, 16-bit display, 8x or faster CD-ROM, Soundblaster16 or compatible sound card .

    Mac: System 8.6-9.1 and OS X, PowerPC 180MHz or faster cpu, 100 MB hard drive space, 32 MB RAM, 16-bit display, 8x or faster CD-ROM, 16-bit stereo sound .

    Reviewed on:
    -     Pentium II - 450 running Windows 98, with 128MB RAM and 24x - CD-ROM
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