This year's BESSIE winners were an excellent crop of new entries in the children's educational software field. We were very pleased with the high quality of software represented, and are looking forward to an even bigger field of entries for the 1998 "EDDIEs," our EDUCATION REVIEW AWARDS, which focus on teachers and the classroom. (The EDDIEs will be accepting entries in March/April, 1998.)

The winner in our Best Toddler category, which also had the most press this year, was Actimates: Barney [Microsoft
(800) 426-9400]. While it is a clear indication of where toys are going (but might not quite be there yet), our toddler testers were very clear that this was a winner. Our advice: Buy for the early end of the toddler years...four-year-olds tire of the purple beast quickly.

Another clear winning entry (this time, no caveats) was Big Thinker: Kindergarten [Humongous
(425) 951-2149].  A dynamic and engaging collection of early learning activities delivered in a fresh and fun format. Kids love it, and there's a whole lot of learning going on! We knew Humongous could deliver.

A very special winner was Magic Wardrobe, a collaboration between IBM and Crayola [(914) 766-3365]. This program is a thematic wonder for girls. Wedding paper dolls with history and journal writing, it needs some supervision to realize the whole educational value, but it's really worth it, and your little girls will benefit.

Mom and Dad may appreciate the Dilbert cartoons, but Hi-Tech Hijinks [KnowWonder
(425) 482-0202] is strictly for kids. Young Dilbert takes your junior nerds through serious logic, science, and computer learning games. Recommended for high-end PCs - needs lots of RAM!

Another delightful winner from Humongous
[(425) 951-2149] is Spy Fox in Dry Cereal. An interactive adventure, this title is big on logic skills and entertainment.

Any title from Pierian Spring
[(800) 472-8578] is an important addition to your child's education. Very thorough and comprehensive, this year's winner, An Odyssey of Discovery: Writing for Readers, is sure to help your child succeed. But don't overlook An Odyssey of Discovery: Science, which also won a BESSIE.

In the reference area, we really liked IBM
's World Book 1998 Multimedia Encyclopedia [(617) 895-2488] because of its ease of use and 'forgiving' format. Large typeface and extensive topic coverage also helped.

Our Special Award this year went to SVE & Churchill
[(800) 829-1900] for My Brother's Keeper, a deeply touching account of the Holocaust, delivered from the artist's drawings and remembrances. A classroom must.

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