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As confidence builds, the child will progress to being able to read the story, with the pen helping on unrecognized words. This could be a huge benefit for reluctant readers by removing the fear many children have of making a mistake.

The Tag System pen is best put in the hands of the earliest reader first. Older children will find it is easier to just read the book, though my 8-year-old tester did admit that having the pen to help with words he could not sound out was mighty nice.

Game Bytes

Here’s an abbreviated look at some multimedia items for the entire family:

mRock Band (for Wii, Harmonix and MTV Games, rated T for teen, $169.99) - I have some good news to report: The best music-based party game on the market is making its debut on Nintendo’s home entertainment console.

OK, that’s the good news. Wii owners get to play Rock Band and it’s generally a great experience offering something for any rock music fan in the family. The bad news is, unlike its Xbox 360 and PlayStation3 brethren, the game is a drastically stripped down version of Rock Band due to the Wii’s limited storage and processing power.

Players do not get customizable characters, the complex World Tour career mode, downloadable content, online multiplayer mode or the ability to choose set lists.

They do get a microphone, Fender Stratocaster guitar with strap, a cool-looking white drum kit with four pads and a foot pedal, and more than 60 songs to work through, five of which are exclusive to the Wii version. (“Roxanne” by the Police is the highlight of the new tunes.)

The core game mechanics are still the same. Match icons or sing to bars rolling across the screen as a song plays.

The bad news continued when one of my younger testers broke one of the cheaply made drumsticks nearly right out of the box. The guitar also has a very mushy strum mechanism and difficult-to-control whammy bar.

Worse news is for folks who just purchased the package. Rock Band 2 debuts in the fall, promising a much-better song selection. No word yet on correcting the other deficiencies.

mGuitar Hero: Aerosmith (for Xbox 360, Activision, rated T for teen, $59.99) - One of America’s greatest rock bands teams up with the world’s premiere guitar gaming experience for one raucous session of faux ax shredding.

The average Guitar Hero player who happens to enjoy Aerosmith even slightly is in for a rare treat. He gets to mirror the career of the band as he works up from a gig at Nipmuc High School in Mendon, Mass., to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

A total of 41 songs (25 pure Aerosmith, four from Joe Perry and 12 from other artists) are available in solo, cooperative and versus modes. Besides the ability to unlock bassist Tom Hamilton and rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford, players challenge Mr. Perry and eventually also unlock the riff master.

Serious Guitar Hero players will wonder what the fuss is all about in this high-priced title that is not as strong or innovative as it should have been. But those who get goose bumps when they hear the opening riffs of such classics as “Walk this Way,” “Dream On,” and “Back in the Saddle” will not be disappointed.

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