Hosiery for the harem-scarems

28th June 1996 at 01:00
PIPPI LONGSTOCKING. Age range: 4-10CD-Rom for Windows PC and Mac Pounds 39.95. Tel: 0161 477 4235for local stockists

There's something endearing and eccentric about people who wear odd socks. Which is probably what makes Pippi Longstocking, Astrid Lingren's harem-scarem creation with the freckles and sticking-out, ginger pigtails and different-coloured stockings so enjoyable.

Pippi Longstocking is the strongest girl in the world and this new CD-Rom title, with three stories and many different interactive activities, has Pippi lifting horses and capturing burglars single-handed. Children can tour Pippi's house, the Villa Villekula, investigating each room for hidden delights, like the music room, where Pippi and her friends play a raucous tune on different instruments, along with a monkey and a horse.

There are some activities hidden in Villa Villekula that are fun, such as dressing Pippi in a range of different clothes and accessories, and there are plenty of opportunities for children to talk about the things they discover in her house. The CD-Rom comes with a soft-toy version which would help young children relate to the stories even more.

The stories can be read in 10 languages, determined by the user, including French, German and English, the Nordic languages and Japanese. This makes Pippi Longstocking very versatile indeed and a good way to introduce young children to the sounds of different languages.

The British English version (there is American English as well) is read in a pleasant, clear voice. However, it would have been useful to have the words highlighted as they were read, to make it easier for beginner readers to follow.

While the illustrations are delightful, the interface could have been easier to use. It is hard to get out of some of the screens once you are in them and the buttons are not totally clear. However, the feature that allows you to change easily to the use of a switch rather than a mouse is welcome for users with special needs and should be something that is included in all software.

This CD-Rom is as mischievous and bubbly as Pippi herself and would be a useful addition to a book corner or a primary library. It might even encourage more people to wear odd socks.

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