- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 12, 2005

“Pookie and Tushka Find a Little Piano,” an illustrated children’s book published last year, chronicles the arctic adventures of a little penguin and polar bear who learn the meaning of friendship and teamwork.

Pers Corp., the multimedia publishing entity behind the title, has created a complementary online world to extend the frozen fun. The polar pals offer kindergartners games, music and a bit of education about the coldest parts of the planet.

Icelands

Site address: www.pers.com/icelands/

Creator: The Peruvian-owned company Pers Corp., located in Santa Clara, Calif., maintains and owns the site.

Creator quotable: “Pers was created to provide children of all ages with unique and inspiring entertainment of the highest quality,” says Jorge Antonio Tello Aliaga, president of Pers Corp. “With Icelands.com we wanted to create a fun and safe place where kids could learn about the polar regions and their inhabitants while interacting with Pookie and Tushka, the stars of our award-winning book.”

Word from the Webwise: A dazzling design combined with cute characters and multiple animated segments greets visitors looking for a quick challenge and a bit of learning.

As the opening screen loads, the visitor zooms through falling snow toward an igloo. Rectangular text boxes surrounding the icy structure reveal the sections Cool Facts, Games, Songs, Books, Downloads, Icecards, and Ask Pookie and Tushka.

Youngsters just looking for some fun should stop by Songs and Games, each of which presents a few finger-flipping, tuneful time wasters.

In Songs, visitors can hear the regular and instrumental-only versions of “Pookie’s Song,” accompanied by on-screen lyrics. An animated music video highlights the musicianship of Pookie the penguin on piano and Tushka the bear on drums.

Games holds a pair of on-screen activities: using the keyboard to guide a sledding Tushka down a fir-tree-filled racecourse and having Tushka toss ice blocks to Pookie across an iceberg-filled river so the penguin can build an igloo.

Those seeking a bit of knowledge should look within Cool Facts to find an interactive globe targeting the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Each contains cute animations of Pookie or Tushka jumping up to exclaim “cool fact” while snippets of text pop up, ranging from statistics on polar bears and penguins to news on the frozen land masses.

Additionally, the section features more than 100 photographs that can be viewed in a slide-show presentation.

Ease of use: This gorgeous site requires the Macromedia Flash 6 plug-in. Its design is so hip-tech that parents can have children receive daily jokes and facts via a feed to any popular RSS (really simple syndication) reader. They even can download the games to a computer’s hard drive or songs in an MP3 format to enjoy anytime.

Don’t miss: Visitors looking for a nostalgic and more challenging gaming experience will find it at the bottom of the site’s pages. Click on the Funbar area to enjoy a game of classic Pong against the computer or try blowing apart asteroids while controlling a spaceship. Additionally, a working piano keyboard that even provides a few drum mixes also is available.

Family activity: Of course, Pers Corp. would be happy if parents bought the “Pookie” book and spent some quiet time with their offspring. If money is an issue, however, the site’s developers have promised to add a bunch of downloadable coloring sheets and puzzles.

Cyber-sitter synopsis: The “buy Pers products” message permeates the Web site. Nevertheless, the sheer charm and small bits of learning fun available makes it the perfect amount of online content to digest on a wintry afternoon.

Overall grade: A-

Remember: The information on the Internet is constantly changing. Please verify the advice on the sites before you act to be sure it’s accurate and updated. Health sites, for example, should be discussed with your own physician.

Have a cool site for the family? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at Webwise, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail message (jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com).

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