Blinky Bill's Ghost Cave
Based on an episode of the children's TV Series, The Adventures of Blinky Bill, and written by Sally Odgers, this is a package to entertain, educate and challenge not only Australian children, who will be quite at home with the characters, but children from any English-speaking country.
Blinky Bill's Ghost Cave is both an interactive story book and an activities package all rolled into one and is designed for children three years and over. Everything happens at the click of the mouse button and the cartoon illustrations are especially bright and cheerful with a couple of frights thrown in befitting the ghostly tale. Not only does it have elements to improve reading and comprehension skills, but it also provides a simple introduction to Australian wildlife.
In this tale Blinky Bill and his Gang are out to find a new home for the Rabbit Family who have outgrown their current rabbit hole, and there's a surprise in store late at night when the Rabbits move into their new abode. As is usual with interactive story books there is an option for a straight story reading with the text displayed beneath the animated picture window as well as an option to join in and play. With this second choice there are lots of animations to bring to life and more snippets of dialogue as the characters make helpful and not-so-helpful suggestions.
Hesitate for too long and Mr Wombat (the game's host) will prompt the player to find something to click on. He's very helpful in advising how to turn pages, too, and his story reading is distinct and entertaining. If I might be a little parochial for the moment, it's wonderful to hear an Australian accent in a children's computer game/interactive story book, a real treat for Aussie kids and, hopefully, for other kids as well, as we don't all speak with the same accent, do we?
As well as providing access to the story book the opening screen to Blinky Bill's Ghost Cave also has clickable graphics to access nine or ten activities. These include exercises such as identifying sounds within the story, or characters by matching their names with their pictures. Other activities include identifying Australian animals and matching them with the sounds they make, as well as piecing together jigsaws of the characters. There is also a slide show featuring various Australian creatures and a painting activity for young children where a dab of paint colours the whole object and where the scenery can be shifted around to change the picture.
This one's quite an entertaining package for the young with its reading component and range of activities. Still, it's unfortunate that bunnies are so cute and cuddly that they manage to creep into so many children's tales. I wouldn't dispossess a family of dingos in favour of rabbits, especially since rabbits are essentially vermin here in Australia. In tales about Australian native animals featuring kangaroos, wombats and koalas, I only wish that writers could find an appropriate 'cuddly bunny' substitute. What about a bilby or a possum, or a marsupial mouse?
Copyright © Rosemary Young 1998.
All rights reserved.
486 DX266 or better, 8MB RAM (12-16 preferred), 256 SVGA graphics card, Windows compatible 16bit sound card, 2x CD ROM, Win 3.1 or later, mouse.
Also available for Mac.