Kiyeko and the Lost Night

Nicola Jones

* CD-Rom for Windows Multimedia PCs (minimum 486 with double-speed drive). Pounds 29.99. Macintosh version available soon. From Ubi Soft, Bridge House, 11 Creek Road, Hampton Court, KT8 9DE. Tel: 0181 941 4004A long time ago, an Amazonian Indian sitting in the rain forest told a story about how snakes got their poison. It was overheard by a Czech anthropologist, Vladimir Hulpach, who recorded it. Years later a computer software company has animated the story and put it on CD-Rom.

Kiyeko and the Lost Night is a delightful interactive tale, read by Ben Kingsley. The story, which is aimed at four to nine-year-old children has 12 interactive scenes, all set in the Amazon rainforest.The flora and fauna are animated which goes a long way towards expressing the wonder of the natural world. The music, by French composer Didier Lord, is particularly good and will delight young children.The South American myth tells how some Amazonian snakes stole the night. Suffering in eternal daylight, our hero Kiyeko and his father have to barter with the snakes, exchanging a rattle and some poison to get the night back. In Kipling tradition, the conclusion is that this is why some snakes are poisonous and the rattlesnake comes to have a tail. I was unsure about rattlesnakes in the South American jungle, but a call to the Natural History Museum revealed there is a species of neo-tropical rattlesnakes there.A useful feature is that the story can be read in French, German, Italian and Spanish, which might make it useful for a languages department. It would be a simple matter to include some community languages such as Hindi or Punjabi in future titles.Kiyeko and the Lost Night runs smoothly, was easy to install and the graphics are very impressive. It comes with a cheerful activity book, which could have been a useful learning aid with a bit more input from teachers.

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