Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast (NTK Entertainment /Memorex Children’s Series – ages 6 & up) is refreshingly old-fashioned, if not perfectly suited to multimedia. The story is told in considerably greater depth than the Disney version of a few years back, primarily because there’s so much text and (therefore) so many more details. It is this preponderance of text – whether you’re reading while listening to narration in “storybook mode,” or just listening to narration in “movie” mode – that is the disc’s greatest strength and fatal weakness. The simple, mostly black-and-white drawings and the pathetic excuses for animation (a flag that moves back and forth between two positions, to simulate waving in a breeze, is by no means a “movie”) are disposable fluff. This storybook is really about using the computer, very straightforwardly, to read the story aloud while letting kids follow along. There’s also some hypertext, offering words that will be briefly defined when clicked on. Although a book-and-tape combination would serve just about as well, we’re reluctant to come down too hard on this version of Beauty and the Beast, because it puts the stress where it should be in a story – on the words.