Up From The Coloring Book: Kiddie Art Goes Multimedia

Crayons and paper have helped introduce drawing to generations of youngsters. And in the past few years, thousands of kids have used such scaled-down computer-art programs as Kid Pix. But what about bringing youngsters into the multimedia age? Knowledge Adventure Inc. thinks it has just the program to make that happen.

Magic Theater, a $60 drawing program designed for kids age 8 and up, comes with a full set of paint tools and a collection of animations and clip art. Children can draw and animate by simply "dragging and dropping" items, or by using the mouse to draw freehand. If the PC has a sound card, children can link sound effects and music to their work or even narrate the picture with their own voices by using the microphone included with the software. Each drawing can hold up to one minute of compressed audio, but by stitching drawings together, kids can make whole movies. What's more, the software, which runs on Windows, does away with menus of all types. If a child wants to know what an on-screen button does, she clicks on it with the right mouse button and a digitized child's voice describes its function.

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