This is a delightful collection of popular children's picture books brought to the television. Each one is operated in the same way, so in effect we'll deal with them as one collection. The series is biased towards American books with American narrators and American spelling, but since the majority of children's television cartoons are now American-made, that would only be a problem for the fussiest of English parents. It also gives rise to an interesting feature of the series, in that every book can be read in Spanish, America's second language, if you so wish.
The format is the same for each book. The book is spread open in front of you, with the illustrations from the original printed versions reproduced in digitised form. And they're nicely digitised, too. The words are printed in large, friendly text, with never too much to read on one page. And there's music playing throughout, too, which makes the hole experience very like watching Jackanory.
To move through the book you click on the dog-eared bottom-right corner to turn the page or move a slider at the right-
The interactive element is that you can click on any word on the page to hear it spoken, or hold down the button to hear an 'in context' description of the word. You can also click on any part of the picture and the word that describes whatever you've clicked on will appear on the screen and be spoken.
The only mild problems with the control system is that the CDTV tends not to take input when it's doing something else, such as loading the next piece of music or narration. This means that sometimes you click and nothing will happen; which could be just a bit too fussy for impatient little fingers.
The CD books are just as likely to become treasured possessions for younger children as 'real' books do already. They're nicely presented to a very high professional standard. Of course, different stories will be preferred by different people according to the subject matter - we've tried to give you an idea of which we preferred and why below.
All in all, the only question you have to ask yourself is do you really want to pay that much more for a CD than a book? Kids' books have very few words, which translates into very few minutes of CD-watching, which makes them expensive at only one story per disc.
Books have a 'feel' as objects which is entirely their own and many parents would prefer to get their kids away from the telly to read. On the other had, if it keeps them quiet and encourages the kids of the video age to pay attention to words, it has to be good. Your decisions. It's the price that really makes it seem unviable.