Tinkerer's Paradise

A major problem with translating books into CD-ROM format it that some stories are best told in print; the electronic versions just look silly. Fortunately, that's not the case with the Dorling Kindersley version of David Macauley's popular "The Way Things Work." The disc, like the book, is an explanation of dozens of machines and inventions. On screen, many of the parts move when you click on them, and there are well-done hypertext links to related topics. In the unit on the personal computer, for example, you can link to microprocessors and smart cards, among other things, by clicking on a "see also" button. There's also a mini-encyclopedia of inventors, and animated explanations of scientific principles to go along with all the machines. In all of these features, the disc makes good use of the animation and sound possibilities available on CD-ROM. And, as with all Dorling Kindersley projects, the illustrations are first-rate--appealing to both children and adults.