Living Books

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Living Books
Founded February 16, 1992; 26 years ago (1992-02-16)
Defunct September 14, 1998; 19 years ago (1998-09-14)
Headquarters United States
Owner Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Parent Random House/Brøderbund

Living Books was a series of interactive storybooks for children, first produced by Brøderbund and then spun off into a jointly owned (with Random House) subsidiary, which were distributed on CD-ROM for Mac OS and Microsoft Windows. The series began with the release of Just Grandma and Me (an adaptation of the book by Mercer Mayer) in 1992 till it ended in 1998; other titles in the series included The Tortoise and the Hare, Arthur's Teacher Trouble (and other adaptations of books by Marc Brown), Dr. Seuss, and Berenstain Bears titles.[1]

Atlantan production company Red Rubber Ball (later Little Ark Interactive) created a series of biblical-themes interactive storybooks under contract from Living Books in the late 1990s, and developed under the direction of members of the original Living Books team.

By 2013, Wanderful, Inc. obtained the rights of the series and ported most of them to the iOS platforms[2] and also added additional languages to the products.[3] The Dr. Seuss and Little Critter titles were ported to iOS by Oceanhouse Media.[4]

The assets are currently licensed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.[5] As of 2017, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is offering the Living Books brand as a licensing opportunity on its website.[6]

Games in the series[edit]

Title Author(s) Year Other Language(s) Number of Consecutive Pages Notes
Just Grandma and Me, 1983 Mercer Mayer February 16, 1992
  • Japan (V 1.0)
  • Spain
  • France (V 2.0)
  • Germany (V 2.0)
12 Version 2.0 released in 1997, which included a game.
Arthur's Teacher Trouble, 1986 Marc Brown September 21, 1992
  • Spain
24
The Tortoise and the Hare Aesop March 22, 1993 12 The first original Living Books story that is not based on any real books, because Mark Schlichting, founder of Living Books, retold this classic fable. This version uses humorous twists and cartoon animal characters.
The New Kid on the Block, 1984 Jack Prelutsky and James Stevenson September 20, 1993 17
Ruff's Bone Eli Noyes February 7, 1994
  • Spain
12 The second original Living Books story, but it's actually produced by Colossal Pictures and created and written by Eli Noyes, the producer of the 1964 short claymation film Clay or the Origin of Species. The style is different from the other two original Living Books games.
Little Monster at School, 1978 Mercer Mayer July 18, 1994 18 Philips CD-i released in 1993.
Arthur's Birthday, 1989 Marc Brown September 12, 1994 13 Version 2.0 released in 1997, which includes an increased resolution and two minigames.
Harry and the Haunted House Mark Schlichting October 24, 1994 12 The third Living Books game that is not based on anyone's books. This is the only original Living Books story that was officially created by Mark Schlichting, founder of Living Books. This was actually written and published as a paperback book.
The Berenstain Bears Get in a Fight, 1982 Stan and Jan Berenstain April 10, 1995 11
Dr. Seuss's ABC, 1963 Dr. Seuss September 18, 1995 26 Sing-a-long is included. It appeared on Adventure Workshop: Preschool-1st Grade, and Tots.
Sheila Rae, the Brave, 1987 Kevin Henkes April 15, 1996
  • Spain
12 A game and 7 sing-a-longs are included.
The Berenstain Bears in the Dark, 1982 Stan and Jan Berenstain May 6, 1996 12 2 games are included.
Green Eggs and Ham, 1960 Dr. Seuss July 15, 1996 19 3 games are included.
Stellaluna, 1993 Jannell Cannon August 12, 1996 14 A game is included.
Arthur's Reading Race, 1996 Marc Brown February 17, 1997 12 3 games are included.
The Cat in the Hat, 1957 Dr. Seuss August 11, 1997 12 A game is included.
Arthur's Computer Adventure, 1997 Marc Brown May 25, 1998 16 5 games are included.
D.W. the Picky Eater, 1995 Marc Brown September 14, 1998 10 Also known as Arthur's Adventures With D.W.. New menu system. Four games are included.

Use[edit]

Almost all the CD-ROMs in the series give the user the same four options:

  • Read to Me button: The story is read to the user.
  • Let Me Play button: Takes the user to the story and allows interaction after each page is read.
  • Options button: Takes the user to the Options menu where they can see the credits, and any demos/previews if available and choosing the page from the Let Me Play button and clicking the "OK" button.
  • Quit button: Exits the program and returns to the user's computer desktop.

Availability[edit]

Several former Brøderbund leaders have released selected titles as fully interactive animated applications for Apple mobile devices, as well as for Android as Wanderful Interactive Storybooks.

Brøderbund released two compilations of the stories. The first one was titled "Three for Me Library Volume 1™" which contained "Sheila Rae, the Brave", "Just Grandma and Me" and "Little Monster at School".[7] The second one was titled "Three for Me Library Volume 2™" which contained "The Berenstain Bears Get in a Fight", "Tortoise and the Hare" and "Harry and the Haunted House".[8]

Reception[edit]

Computer Gaming World in 1993 praised Just Grandma and Me and Arthur's Teacher Trouble, describing Living Books as "Broderbund's acclaimed series".[9] Publishers Weekly, in a review of Dr. Seuss' ABC, called that title "one of the best children's CD-ROMs to date" and stated that, "[...] the producers' fondness for Dr. Seuss and their fidelity to his sense of refined silliness spill into every sequence."[10] Simson L. Garfinkel and Beth Rosenberg found that the CD-ROMs played better on Macs than on PCs. Although they found the titles to be of high quality in a market flooded with "questionable" releases for children, they stated that not all of them lived up to the company's educational claims (noting Dr. Seuss' ABC and Arthur's Reading Race as exceptions) and felt that the added dialogue supplementing the book's text was sometimes "out of character".[11] Arthur's Teacher Trouble, The Tortoise and the Hare, Ruff's Bone, and Little Monster at School all received a very high score of over 90.00 in the book CD-ROMs Rated by Les Kranz; in the review for Little Monster at School, the graphics and the number of clickable areas were described as positives.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Series Review "THE LIVING BOOKS Series by Living Books/Broderbund." McMath, Chuck. Game Bytes Vol 1. Num. 21. 1994. Retrieved March 24, 2007.
  2. ^ "Wanderful Storybooks on the App Store". iTunes. Retrieved 2017-04-12. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Wanderful Storybooks - Living Books". Wanderful Storybooks. Retrieved 2017-04-12. 
  4. ^ "Oceanhouse Media Apps". Oceanhouse. Retrieved 2017-04-12. 
  5. ^ "About Us". www.little-ark.com. Retrieved 2017-03-05. 
  6. ^ "Licensing Opportunities". Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Retrieved 2017-01-17. 
  7. ^ Brøderbund (April 12, 1997). "The Three For Me Library Volume 1™". Archived from the original on April 12, 1997. Retrieved June 3, 2016. 
  8. ^ Brøderbund (April 12, 1997). "The Three For Me Library Volume 2™". Archived from the original on April 12, 1997. Retrieved June 3, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Forging Ahead or Fit to be Smashed?". Computer Gaming World. April 1993. p. 24. Retrieved July 6, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Multimedia Reviews: Dr. Seuss' ABC". Publishers Weekly. New York: Cahners Publishing Company. 242 (35): 41. August 28, 1995. ISSN 0000-0019. 
  11. ^ Garfinkel, Simson L.; Beth Rosenberg (February 5, 1998). "Bringing kids' books to life". Boston Globe Online. Globe Newspaper Company. Retrieved November 2, 2009. 
  12. ^ Kranz, Les (1994). CD-ROMs Rated: A Guide to the Best and Worst CD ROMs & Multimedia Titles. Laura L. Armer, Adrienne Brown, Joel Gershon, and Pamela Thomasson (Senior Reviewers), and Marjorie Glass, Brian Harrison, Douglas W, Horner, Corolyn Huesman, Dan Laxton, Vivian Laxton, and Josh Sinton (Reviewers). McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-912052-0.