Pick. Sometimes less is more. World Book
Encyclopedia 2004 Edition is a
fantastic starter electronic encyclopedia for kids just beginning
to do research for school projects. Although it features less
content than many electronic encyclopedias on the market, its
articles are right on target for elementary-age children. Not only
is the reading level appropriate, the program features articles
that students are looking for.
There are three CD-ROMs in this edition. New to this 2004
edition are over 3000 additional articles, 43 new maps, 105 new
illustrations, 530 new photographs, and 45 new tables. The basic
features and interface remain the same. This time around, users
can fully install the first CD-ROM in the set.
main encyclopedia, contained on two CD-ROMs, opens with a splash
screen. Children can choose to browse the contents
in a variety of creative ways using the various browse options,
such as Just Looking and Surf the Ages, or select
"Topics" and begin a search for the information they
The "Monthly Spotlight" feature is a great place to start browsing. If the current month is
February, for example, kids can read about the February birthstone
(amethyst) and choose to read more about this gemstone through the
link to another article. They can read about Valentine's day, or
explore that month's focus (transportation).
Using the program's toolkit, students can highlight
information needed from the articles. Kids can also place Sticky Notes in
articles and media. Double-clicking on a word in the article pulls
up a dictionary entry for the word. The built-in dictionary is
great for students because it provides plenty of example sentences
and the pronunciations are presented in a straightforward,
Surf the Ages is a unique feature that presents simulated web
sites as if the web had existed since Ancient times. Very
creative! The Back in Time option presents 80 years of World Book
articles, useful for exploring events described without the
current perspective. Another way to browse is found in Just
Looking which can be totally random or a more customized browsing.
The Atlas is nicely integrated and features a distance calculator.
It isn't as snazzy as the one found in Encarta, however.
We wish the encyclopedia offered help when children don't know
the exact spelling of a word. In Encarta, for example,
alternate spellings appear automatically. But when kids know
exactly what they're looking for, the program doesn't disappoint.
The articles feature nice multimedia, which keeps interest levels
high, and often point users to valuable and related information
This program is ideal for elementary-age children. Older kids
and adults will want (or need) more information, and the best
choice for them will be Encarta (see our review
of Encarta 2005). However, World Book 2004 is
delightfully uncomplicated and uncluttered. It has an imaginative
presentation that gives it a friendly feel. In fact, gathering
information can actually be a fun experience with this
We think that World Book 2004 Edition, priced at only
$19.99 US or less, is a great buy.