on Sunday, January 11, 2009
Unlike traditional fairytales where princesses are rescued by princes, in Dora the Explorer: Fairytale Adventure, Dora becomes a princess so that she can do the rescuing. She must rescue her best buddy Boots. An evil witch has put a spell on Boots, turning him into "Sleeping Boots." Kids either help Dora in the fairytale escapade or they can bypass the adventure and go directly to the 10 multi-leveled games. If children opt for the adventure, they are transported to Fairyland with Dora and Boots. When Boots eats a bewitched banana, he falls into a deep sleep. Boot's sleep spell can only be broken by a "true princess." Dora tackles four tasks to gain the status of a "true princess." She asks players to help her get magic rings from a dragon, teach rocks to sing, turn winter to spring, and bring the moon to the King and Queen. Sound impossible? Not when you are Dora! To accomplish these feats, youngsters play learning activities that teach colors, shapes, counting, and logical reasoning. For example, to turn winter into spring, kids match snowmen with hats and gloves that correspond to snowmen's sizes. The activities also provide preschoolers with much-needed practice at using the computer mouse. At one point, youngsters swipe the screen with an oversized cursor to wipe the snowy landscape away to reveal spring underneath. Fairytale Adventure is a good choice for families wanting to encourage bilingual speech because Dora speaks in both English and Spanish. In addition, the software has three fairytale storybooks that can be read aloud in both English and Spanish. There are 14 songs and some teach Spanish words. Dora and her friends encourage a child's participation by looking out and talking directly to the child. Because the activities are available on three levels of difficulty, the software is replayable. The software offers hints and help when a child is struggling -- a hallmark of good preschool/kindergarten software. The adventure is exciting because Dora interacts with a witch, a dragon, a giant, and even singing stones.