'Talking Ski Area: Best of the World Edition',CD-ROM screen saver, Cylogic Inc., $19.95.

Cylogic has come up with a kind-yet-cruel screen saver: an Internet-linked CD-ROM disc that can call up illustrated maps of more than 80 North American and European ski resorts.Only four Utah destinations are included, but they're great ones.

You can, for example, put Park City's enticing mountains and ski runs on your computer screen -- a picture of blue sky, snow-blanketed mountains and strips of white bordered by swaths of evergreen greenery. Alta's parking lots pop up in the lower left of its map scene, with lovely Albion Basin and Devil's Castle in the upper right. Heber Valley sits quietly beyond Deer Valley's mountains and residential dots. Snowbird's a vision in white, less of a tangle of trails compared to other resorts in the collection.

Users can scroll through the selected images quickly or via a thumbnail- image directory. Additional information is but a click away -- factoids like resort phone numbers, Web sites, elevations and lift capacities.

The CD-ROM, which is Windows and Mac compatible, can also set up a snow-report ticker that updates information about snow and weather conditions at each resort. And, via RealAudio, skiers and snowboarders with Windows can hear updated conditions from specific resorts -- playbacks of actual snow phone reports.

Could this be the next-best thing to actually hitting the slopes? -- Ray Boren (Deseret News)

'Celebrate! Stories,of the Jewish Holidays', By Gilda Berger, paintings by Peter Catalanotto; Scholastic Press; $17.95.

This book was originally conceived for children, but it is a great primer for any novice looking into Jewish celebrations for the first time.

It covers the usual ground -- Hanukkah, Purim, Rosh Hashanah, Shabbat -- in bright, encylopedic sentences. Time-lines are used, scriptures are quoted and the illustrations are superb.

At the end of each section readers will learn to bake a Jewish dish appropriate for the occasion or do a "craft" to accent the holiday.

Chapters are divided into the standard journalistic questions: How We Celebrate, What We Celebrate and Why We Celebrate.

The book is both enlightening and fun -- not an easy combination. But then Berger is an old hand at such things. She has published 60 books for children -- including this one -- which she penned for her own grandkids.

Her personal affection shows through. -- Jerry Johnston (Deseret News)

A Christmas vocabulary

First came the gift, a Christmas story for his daughters. Then came Richard Paul Evan's book, "The Christmas Box," a best-selling seasonal phenomenon. That was followed by a television movie, starring Richard Thomas and Maureen O'Hara.

Now the Utah writer's little book is a vocabulary primer.

The December issue of Reader's Digest has selected 20 words from "The Christmas Box" for its regular feature, "It Pays to Enrich your Word Power." The choices range from "accouterment" and "brittle" to "sanctimonious" and "vertigo."

So, is "sconce n. -- A: small, powdery cake. B: lantern. C: hiding place." or "D: railing." The answer is B: "Screened lantern, candlestick or other light on a wall. Old French esconse (dark lantern)," the Digest instructs. -- Ray Boren (Deseret News)