Storybook Workshop offers families a way to infuse some cool techie things into the process of reading children's fairytales. This game comes bundled with a microphone and is played by plugging that microphone into the Nintendo Wii. It offers 16 fairytales for families to explore together, as well as some games.
The stories show up on the screen as animated illustrations with the words shown on the bottom of the screen. While the game provides a professional storyteller who will read the stories out loud to kids, what makes it so much fun is that parents and/or kids can record their own voices reading the tales and then play them back accompanied by animation and music. What is even better is that you can use the Magic Voice feature, which records your voice but then alters it whenever a character is speaking. It is enchanting for children to hear their high voices turn into the deep voice of the North Wind while listening to "The Boy Who Went to the North Wind," a Norwegian folk tale.
The fairytales are from around the world, including those written by Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm, and Aesop. The list includes classics like "Little Red Riding Hood," "The Ugly Duckling," "The Town Musicians of Bremen," and others like "The Mitten" from Ukraine and "Hats for the Stone Statues" from Japan. Depending on which language you set your Wii to play, the game will speak in English, Spanish or French.
Kids navigate this game from inside a playroom located in a tree house. TV Head, an animated television, serves as the host. Connected to the playroom are four other rooms. The Orange room serves as your library, where you can access all the storybooks. In the Apple room, you can have fun playing with the voice changer, singing and recording songs, painting pictures with your voice, and exploring other learning games. The Grape room is where you sign in and decide whether you are reading alone or with others. And the Acorn Room shows you how to play the game and keeps track of how many books you have read. The game awards virtual stickers for participating.
Storybook Workshop is a fun game for families to explore together. Non-readers will enjoy listening and watching as their parents or older siblings read the stories that they can later listen to alone. They will also be able to join in on parts of the recordings and even explore other activities like the magical painting with their voice. And this is a great way for visiting relatives or traveling parents to leave a story they have read so that a child can enjoy it later.
Kids who are old enough to read alone will have fun exploring the voice alteration. They will also like the feature that allows their favorite Mii (an avatar that had previously been created on your Nintendo Wii system) to show up inside a story. Four of the fairytales have this special feature. For example, in "The Mitten," your Mii arrives as the head of the very chatty rabbit. It's a hoot.
As much fun as this reading-based game is, it isn't perfect. When you read aloud into the microphone, you will hear what you are reading as a delayed sound. It can be rather disconcerting and takes some getting used to. Also, at times, the background music can be distracting while reading. The game does allow you to set how loud the background sounds are as compared to the microphone sounds, but you cannot turn off the background sounds completely.
Another area that could use some improvement is the navigation scheme. Before each story there are a lot of options that you must navigate before finally being able to start playing.
However, these complaints are minor when compared to the excitement about reading that this nifty game generates. If you have a Wii and young readers, Storybook Workshop would be a great addition to your Wii library.
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