With a feature movie joining her many books and videos, Madeline is about as big as a little orphaned French girl can get. Her spirit and enthusiasm are well-suited to the coaching and teaching role she assumes in "Madeline, Thinking Games Deluxe."
Although older children might find French-accentuated, high-pitched and oft-repeated "You are so clever!" annoying, the game is for ages 4 and up at a cost of about $35.
The first of this two-CD program seems targeted at ages 4 to 8. With a mouse click, you opt to enter Madeline's house or garden. Within the house, you can create meals in the kitchen by finding or sorting items at Madeline's direction. Other rooms offer other fun games and lessons.
In one "kitchen" game, items on a conveyor belt must be selected according to their relationship to other items moving along the belt. Madeline's dog, Genevieve, sits at the end of the line, gobbling up the unused items. Young children find this quite gleeful. And the effervescent Madeline is there to offer frequent encouragement and reward correct answers with a cheerful, "Now you're cooking, heh, heh, heh!"
Other locales feature matching and sorting games and puzzles, all with three levels of challenge, and there is a sing-along section as well.
One favorite program for my "testers" - three girls who share a room - was one in which the user gets to create her own bedroom. This activity can easily occupy half an hour, as the wistful interior decorator selects wallpaper, furnishings and even pets to create the perfect room.
The second disc, Madeline's European Adventures, offers slightly more challenging games as Madeline explores four countries - France, Switzerland, Italy and Turkey - with ample opportunity to solve problems and learn a few words of French and Spanish.
At the Paris train station, for instance, Madeline learns she must earn money for her train ticket and obtain a passport, then gather map pieces to plot her course.
Each country features fun tasks which must be accomplished with some degree of ingenuity, though the answers are programmed in and do not change. Postcards offer the chance to do some creative writing.
"Thinking Games Deluxe," formatted for Windows 3.1 and Windows 95, gives you your money's worth, and is certain to appeal particularly to those in the lower elementary school grades.
For more information, point your Web browser to www.creativewonders.com
Pub Date: 7/13/98