THE FISH WHO COULD WISH
By John Bush & Korky Paul
Narrated by Robbie Coltrane
ISBN 0192683373 Oxford University Press
Enter the wild and exuberant underwater world of "THE FISH WHO COULD WISH". This fun-packed multimedia adventure stars the wishful fish, a larger-than-life character with a huge personality. Watch in amazement as his dreams come true before your eyes, and you can play in his adventure. Children will love watching and listening as his dreams are created, and will be thrilled with all the funny and entertaining things that happen when they click on the objects on the screen. See the fish in his very own sports car, and hear him sing some of his favourite songs.
OUP has a deserved reputation for publishing the best in books for children and young people. Readers have only got to look at those recommended in this journal. And for their first move into Multimedia publication an author and illustrator have been chosen, along with a Glasgow-based development company, Inner Workings, who have created excellent screen reflections of their individual style.
Korky Paul is an artist whose bolder, more strongly outlined illustrations are vividly brought to life. We follow a brightly coloured Fish through an imaginative underwater world. This includes Medieval Castles, Pop Concerts, even Outer Space. As the directional mouse is moved totally unexpected effects come into play; the Fish can sing, play the guitar, even an octopus can join in the music or help in other ways. If this seems too fantastic, even for infants, Paul described how, on a research visit, he was shown a golden oblong on a plate when one child painted what he thought a fish looked like. At least his story proves they are living creatures.
I warmly recommend this CD-Rom as a publication which will give hours of pleasure and aesthetic enjoyment without any need to zap Aliens or indulge in other kinds of violence. Do look out for future publications.
SPOKEN ENGLISH, MAR '96, Marion Speirs
Oxford Multimedia have a good reputation in the world of electronic publishing developments - particularly for the Oxford English Dictionary on CD-Rom. But they are now expanding in an attempt to tap the huge, and still growing, multi-media consumer market.
The first of these ventures is a CD-Rom version of the hugely successful children's book - "THE FISH WHO COULD WISH". Created by John Bush and the well known children's illustrator Korky Paul, "THE FISH WHO COULD WISH" is an interesting blend of fantasy, text, and beautiful illustration - all narrated by Robbie Coltrane - that looks to have all the elements that will really appeal to a younger audience.
The fish of the title is a larger than life character whose dreams and wishes can become reality at will. He dreams of owning a car, skiing, even owning a horse, all of which, rather unusually, come true. As each scene unfolds the story progresses, and you are given the option to click on parts of the screen to bring up an array of amusing effects, animations and sounds - all designed to bring the image to life. These effects range from simple bleeps and honking noises to full animated sequences in which the fish and his friends participate in the 'wished for' scene.
"THE FISH WHO COULD WISH" has already been awarded a Highly Commended in the Best Toy Awards 1995, and it isn't difficult to see why. The product oozes quality, both in terms of Korky Paul's visuals, the storyline, and the interface. Children will love the witty visual gags, the excellent tunes and the endearing personality of the fish, but they'll also love the way the CD feels. It animates well and has a great deal of charm and imagination.
Give your child "THE FISH WHO COULD WISH" and leave them to it - you probably wont hear a peep out of them for hours!
PC HOME, Reviewed by Neil Jones
Successful storybooks usually work very well - given the multimedia treatment - and this electronic book from Oxford University Press looks set to continue the trend.
"THE FISH WHO COULD WISH" is a tuneful story featuring a fish who rides horses, drives cars and wears shades. Why? Because he can wish - that's why! Narrated by Actor/Comedian Robbie Coltrane, "THE FISH WHO COULD WISH" sports some beautifully drawn graphics and is chock full of gags and activities.
This month we look at an offering from Oxford University Press, "THE FISH WHO COULD WISH". Actor and comedian Robbie Coltrane lends his pleasant Scottish tones to the story. This is a fairy tale about a fish who can wish for whatever he likes. Eventually he wishes that he is a fish like any other fish and loses the power to wish.
Or as the first page more eloquently puts it:
The program is based on a picture book for children of the same name, written by John Bush and illustrated by Korky Paul. A miniature copy of the book is included with the program. This is an excellent touch because it gives your child the opportunity to study the book and reinforce the learning of the package away from the computer. Although there are only a dozen pages, each is beautifully illustrated in the book and these pictures are faithfully reproduced in the multimedia version. Six-year-old Torsten was very pleased with the book and asked if he could take it to school to show his teacher. The program has the advantage of hot spots which invoke some clever and often very funny animations and make the program immediately appealing.
HE WISHED FOR FINE SUITS
As there are few words on each page, the textual content is not too demanding. For example, one page reads "He wished for fine suits and handsome silk ties, but the one thing he never wished was how to be wise." The illustration is of a set of clothes dangling from hangers. When you click on a bridal dress, there is a cute fish 'wedding'. A hot spot on a city suit reveals a fish with a mobile phone making deals on the spot market. 'Sell Flies! Buy Worms.' You might find that this sort of humour is lost on the average six-year-old, but it had me rolling about in my chair!
You can have the story read to you by clicking a treasure chest in the opening screen. Alternatively, by clicking bubbles in the opening screen you can navigate each page in play mode, with access to the hot spots. Also in play mode, you can choose whether to have the words displayed on the screen. This may offer some comfort to those looking for educational value, but the progress through the text is not indicated by any highlighting.
Torsten loved the program, but he did not want to have the text displayed as this would be demanding. For younger players, one of the pages has the fish turning into various shapes so my youngest, three-year-old Leif, had a chance to enjoy recognising shapes.
"THE FISH WHO COULD WISH" is beautifully presented, with a rich vein of humour. For example, if you leave the program for a while, when you return to the screen you will see a fish swimming around on screen holding a placard saying "Wake Up!" The program is easy to start using and very entertaining for children but its a shame that there are no open, unstructured activities beyond looking at the hot spots.
PRACTICAL PC LEISURE, Kai Chandler
You'll be amazed by what a fish living deep beneath the sea can wish for, and his every wish comes true. Robbie Coltrane reads this new children's story from Oxford University Press. Our fully interactive demo features great artwork and animation, and there are lots of hotspots for children to explore.
CD-ROM TODAY, SEPTEMBER '95
After several years of putting their definitive reference works on CD, Oxford University Press has decided to get in on the multimedia story book act, and it's kicking off the range with this title. It is based on an existing children's story and comes complete with a miniature version of the original book so that the player can follow the words while the story is read to them.
"THE FISH WHO COULD WISH" is a poem by John Bush, which is accompanied by some rather attractive water-coloured illustrations by artist Korky Paul. This CD version of the story is read by Scottish thespian, Robbie Coltrane. The developers at Inner Workings have also added the usual animations and bits for the junior listener to click his mouse pointer on, as well as some jaunty fiddle and harmonica tunes that play along in the background.
THE TALE OF THE FISH
Like other interactive books, the story of "THE FISH WHO COULD WISH" is quite short, only nine pages long, but the developers have obviously worked hard to pack as much into those nine pages as possible.
The wishing fish of the title wishes for some pretty bizzare stuff (a horse, a car, a submarine, a ski slope) so each page presents lots of new stuff to mess around with. Clicking on objects in the picture can result in a sparkly visual effect or a little tune being played. There's even a little sub-plot starring a couple of fishy lovers whose romance is played out in the background, as long as you click on the right part of the screen.
OXFORD VS BRØDERBUND
While the graphics and audio are hard to fault, the entertainment leaves a little bit to be desired. Admittedly, I probably expect more than a primary-aged user, but while I was looking at this title, there was our staff writer sitting next to me reviewing the latest in Brøderbund's Talking Books series, the Berenstain Bears Get Into a Fight.
To me, that seemed to have more to it, with pictures that werent as pretty but were bolder and more colourful, and activities that were slightly more varied and more interesting to look at than some of those in "THE FISH WHO COULD WISH".
The story also ends too abruptly and there isn't much to it, but I suppose that's just a matter ot taste, and most young children will probably enjoy it just the same.
Though "THE FISH WHO COULD WISH" doesn't have quite as much going for it as some of the other interactive children's books on the market, it's an auspicious start for the Oxford range, and is worth considering for the Mac users in your nursery.
MAC ACTION, OCTOBER 1995 Paul Glancey