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Mia's Big Reading Adventure: The Bugaboo Bugs Mia's Big Language Adventure: The Kidnap Caper Review by Cindy West

Kutoka Interactive
1001, rue Sherbrooke Est
Bureau 400
Montreal, Canada H2L 1L3

Mia's Big Adventure DVD-ROMs are engaging computer software with characters that will melt your heart, at the same time teaching your children many academic skills. The games of skill are embedded within a story line, making these products unlike others on the market.

With three-dimensional graphics and realistic movements, the characters and objects seem to come alive on the computer screen. The graphics are colorful and include lots of detail. I really liked that the characters move slowly enough to allow a child to soak in what's going on.

In both DVD-ROMs, your child will make decisions and complete skill games in order for a story to continue. However, the skill games are so well integrated that they don't bring the story to a halt. For instance, in The Kidnap Caper, the child is helping the main character, Mia, look for clues to determine who kidnapped her grandmother. When your child is asked to help figure out a clue by decoding some words in a decoding machine, it is a natural part of the plot.

I will say that going through the whole Kidnap Caper story as an adult was a bit difficult. I really wanted to skip ahead and try out the program without having to wait for the story to continue, but I was unable to bypass it. However, my children loved the story aspect and didn't mind waiting to hear more before going on to the next activity. Much to my delight, The Bugaboo Bugs did allow me to bypass the story and go straight to the games. Unfortunately, though, once I started a particular game, there was no easy way out until I had completed all the tasks set before me. I can see how that might become frustrating to children who prefer to skip around.

Mia's Big Reading Adventure: The Bugaboo Bugs is geared toward ages five through nine. The program has four levels so that you can easily choose an appropriate reading level for your child. On the first level, all the directions and readings are read aloud to your child. By level four, your child is expected to do all the reading independently. Twelve different games reinforce the language arts skills of letters, phonics, ABC order, rhyming, spelling, simple grammar, sentence construction, reading comprehension, and following instructions.

Mia's Big Language Adventure: The Kidnap Caper is written for ages six through ten. You may choose to have the clues and games reinforce the learning of either Spanish or French. Three levels are offered, and detailed instructions are given by the characters. All speaking is in English, but the skill games teach letters, sounds, words, basic grammar and sentence structure of the language you choose.

All in all, I found both DVD-ROMs to be very good for the age ranges targeted. My children enjoyed them very much. One negative, though, is that each program took about 15 minutes to load on my computer (which is only two years old). I'm assuming the three-dimensional graphics must have caused the delay.

Product review by: Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2008