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DISCIS BOOKS SERIES

Discis produce digital versions of a number of popular childrens’ storybooks, all of which use the same basic system, so before we even start looking at the individual titles, it is worth explaining here how the system works. Essentially, what you have on the screen is the left- and right-hand pages of an opened book. This has the words and the pictures, all digitised in pretty good colour from the original text and illustrations.

By clicking in the corners of the page you can turn pages forwards and backwards and a slider at the righthand side means you can jump around the book several pages at a time. The easiest option is to watch and listen to the whole book: a narrator speaks the story from a hi-fi soundtrack, music plays in the background and the pages of the book are turned automatically. At any time, you can jump in and stop the story, and use the other ‘interactive’ features of the system.

You can click on any of the words in the text to hear them spoken out loud and you can click on parts of the pictures to have whatever you have clicked on described. An option also means the story to be read in Spanish, America’s second language.

This system is consistently good, though the flaw in seeing delicate watercolour illustrations in a digitised form is obvious. Inevitably, Discis books vary in appeal according to the story.

Discis books series
Clicking in the ‘dog-eared’ corners of a Discis book turns the pages backwards and forwards…

Discis books series
…while the slider at the right-hand edge of the book lets you move around to any part of the book you choose.

Discis books series
The digitised illustrations are really rather good, reproducing the watercolour originals excellently.

Discis books series
Clicking on words in the text means that word is spoken out loud by the narrator…

Discis books series
While clicking on the pictures will bring up a one-word description of what you click on, also spoken.

Discis books series
This is our favourite Discis Story: Paper Bag Princess, in which a clever girl outwits a dumb (male!) dragon.

CINDERELLA  CDTV

A particularly wishy-washy and very American version of the fairly tale standard and stuffed with over-pretty characters.

Verdict: 60%

HEATHER HITS HER FIRST HOME RUN  CDTV

A slightly slushy tale of American kidhood. As if you could not have guessed.

Verdict: 62%

LONG HARD DAY AT THE RANCH, A  CDTV

Another title that is just that little bit too sentimental for UK tastes, the tale of a little boy’s vivid imaginative plots.

Verdict: 64%

MOVING GIVES ME A STOMACH ACHE  CDTV

One of the more charming stories, with particularly lovely pictures, and an educative angle on handling new situations.

Verdict: 70%

MUD PUDDLE  CDTV

This has to be the best of the titles. Great ‘I can relate to that’ storyline and mercifully little sentimentality. Yet it is still very cute. So, how did you get covered in mud, then?

Verdict: 70%

PAPER BAG PRINCESS  CDTV

A great little modernised fairytale with a feminist twist. Compulsory for little girls.

Verdict: 70%

SCARY POEMS FOR ROTTEN KIDS  CDTV

Collection of creepy-crawly rhymes is a jolly little collection. If Roald Dahl is your style of thing, this one should be right up your trouser leg.

Verdict: 75%

TALE OF PETER RABBIT, THE  CDTV

This Beatrix Potter classic stays mercifully faithful to the original – even English narration – and needs absolutely no introduction.

Verdict: 70%

TALE OF BENJAMIN BUNNY, THE  CDTV

Another relatively unspoilt Beatrix Potter Classic.

Verdict: 70%

THOMAS’ SNOWSUIT  CDTV

Sweet American childhood tale that turns, as you would expect, a little sickly.

Verdict: 70%

Amiga Format, Issue 39, October 1992, p.p.48-49