KIDS FIRST! Jury Trainer, Chris Pollock, offers her thoughts about 6 new DVDs that your preschooler will thoroughly enjoy.
Barney: Furry Friends. Taking care of a pet is a big responsibility but can be lots of fun, too, as Barney and his friends point out in this DVD. Whether you own a cat, dog, or other animal, there are certain things you might want to know such as how to train the animal, how to feed the animal, and why you should take your animal to a veterinarian. Barney talks about what you should do if your pet is lost. Viewers also get to see a seeing eye dog in action and learn why it’s important to not pet a seeing eye dog. This DVD is very informative and offers creative solutions for families who can’t have pets. The acting is very exuberant and sometimes stilted, but it doesn’t detract from the overall fun found in the songs, crafts, and imaginative play. Child Juror Comments: I loved hearing about how to take care of pets. It’s a big responsibility. If it’s my pet, I need to take care of it. My friends would like it because it has fun song. The kids are like me. Lots of kids have pets so it’s important to take care of them. It’s good for people with pets. One person wanted to have a pet and she helped her neighbor. I learned that pets are fun, but you have to be responsible. If you can’t have a pet you can volunteer at a shelter or help a friend with a pet. DVD. 62 min.; $14.98; Ages 2-5. Lionsgate Home Entertainment.
Let’s Grow: Safety First. Learn all about safety with your favorite preschool television characters. Barney, Thomas, Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam and Kipper teach children about many different areas of safety. During the Barney episode, children get to hear what a smoke detector sounds like, and they learn what it’s for. Fire safety is the name of the game as children learn to “stay low and go” when the air is heavy with smoke. Barney and his friends demonstrate what they mean so children know what to do in an emergency situation. During the episodes themselves as well as in the segments in between with Sprout’s Sean and Chica, children learn about actions they can take to make their own lives, and the lives of people they love, safer. They learn about buckling their seat belts, wearing sunblock, and crossing the road safely. In Thomas and Friends, children learn how impatience and not listening to directions can turn a situation into a dangerous one. In Bob the builder, children learn that taking ones’ time often has safer results then rushing through project. In Fireman Sam, kids learn about water safety and rescue, and in Kipper, they learn about outdoor recreational safety. Some adult viewers were a bit dismayed to see Barney testing bath water with his hand instead of his elbow, which is much safer. However, most of the information on the DVD is very accurate and can be used at home and in school to teach children about safety habits and the reasons behind safety actions. Child Juror Comments: This DVD taught different ways to be safe. I should only walk across the street if a grown-up is there so I can hold their hand. I loved how in Kipper, he let pig use his roller skates. Pig wasn’t very good at it. After a while she gets better because they shared the skates and she practiced. I’m not sure if my friends would like this, but it would teach them stuff like you always need to wear a helmet when you are biking, and you need knee pads when you are skating so you don’t get scraped up. DVD. 76 min.; $14.98; Ages 2-5.
HIT Favorites: Music Music Everywhere. Learn some basic music concepts and explore some instruments with Barney and the gang. In addition to singing and dancing, kids can learn about pianos in all sorts of sizes and shapes from accordions to playground models. They even get to see how a player piano works. If your child is more into building, join Bob the Builder and the building crew as they work together to get an Italian restaurant fixed up and Roley makes a song. In Thomas the Tank Engine, Rusty gets lost, but thanks to his two-toned whistle, the band finds him and they can play music together. How can a dog be musical? Ask Kipper. In this adorable episode, Arnold the pig brings a drum to their picnic, and it’s driving everyone bonkers. They try to distract the little pig to no avail. Then he learns to make music with nature. Watch your child’s imagination come alive and help them learn about music. Child Juror Comments: I loved it. I love all the stories, and I love music. My friends like music, too. This shows how to make instruments like put rocks in a box and shake it. I’m kind of like Rusty. He blew his horn and everyone thought it wasn’t good. Sometimes people don’t like to hear me, either. I really loved when the gray dog gets stuck and he uses the can he is trying to catch a bug with for a drum to get someone to hear him. I learned some new ways to make instruments and I learned that there are pianos that play music by themselves if they have the right things in them. 54 min.; $14.98; Ages 2-5. Lionsgate Home Entertainment.
A Pocket for Corduroy … and More Stories About Friendship - A Sign Language DVD. The classic tale comes to the screen once again, only this time it’s for a wider audience, which includes hearing-impaired viewers. The story is signed in American Sign Language (ASL) while the narrator reads the words on the screen. Simple illustrations enhance the story, and are never blocked out by the woman and man signing. On this DVD, Corduroy is left in a laundromat to his owner, Lisa’s, great despair. The Hispanic girl is very excited to find him again the next day. She discovers that he wandered off because he was looking for a pocket. She tells him that he just should have asked. She makes him a pocket, and the two are happy together. Also on this DVD are “Blue Burt and Wiggles” and “Big Al.” “Blue Burt and Wiggles” is a delightful tale about two unlikely friends (a bird and worm) who are going to be separated for the winter. Their efforts to keep summer going will keep your little ones laughing. “Big Al” has catchy music and silly illustrations sure to make your children smile. Poor Al is trying to make friends, but the other fist are scared of him. He learns that his size can be a benefit and not a detriment as others learn to appreciate him. Learn about the seasons and life under the sea with this sweet DVD. Child Juror Comments: This DVD had good stories. I like how I can see the words. I know some sign language, and I’m learning more. I think my friends would like it because the stories are good. I really liked Corduroy because I have a stuffed bear, too. I think the fishy one is sad, even though it got happy at the end. He had friends. DVD. 36 min.; $12.95; Ages 2-5. New Video Group.
The Rosemary Wells Collection: Max and Ruby. Rosemary Wells knows kids, and it shows. This collection of stories captures the innocence of childhood, highlighting rites of passage, holiday celebrations, and mini lessons. The two-DVD-collection includes eight stories in English and Spanish. The animations are simple and appealing with simple, bold lines and vibrant colors. Each story is relatively short, making it perfect for just before bed or a nap. It’s also a great set for holidays and special events since it contains Easter stories, Christmas stories, and school stories. Child Juror Comments: I liked the pictures. They looked good. I do things like Max like the Easter bunny hunt. Ruby reacted like I would have when he ate the chocolate chicken. She yelled. My friends would like this because it’s funny. They like the books, and now the books are on TV. My favorite part was when the person who cared won. DVD. 153 min.; $19.95; Ages 2-5. New Video Group.
Thomas and Friends: Creaky Cranky. It’s time for a party on Sodor. Right from the start, live action host, Driver Perkins, gets viewers involved in the action by looking straight into the camera and asking the viewer to check in on his friends, the engines so everyone is part of preparing for a party for the duke and duchess, even the viewer. The episodes are presented in delightful animation. In “Creaky Cranky,” Cranky is having a bad day. When Thomas teases him about it, Cranky turns on Thomas and says he can’t pull heavy loads. This causes Thomas to try to prove himself. The two face off competing over who can move the heaviest loads. The episode not only shows how strength lies in doing what is most helpful, but it also shows that when parties compete against each other, they are both responsible for any negative results. Thomas and Cranky demonstrate caring and friendship at the end of the episode when they apologize to each other and go out of their way to help each other. In “Tickled Pink” James is getting a new coat of paint. This showed viewers the process involved in painting and engine with the undercoat of paint that protects the metal. James has to go pick up the children with only his pink undercoat on. He’s very embarrassed and gets teased by the other engines. After trying to hide, he realizes that he has to face his friends to do his job. This shows strength of character, and dedication to work. His willingness to look silly, yet still go out because he can’t be late for the children, shows viewers that children are very important. James is also rewarded by being a hero to the birthday girl he is picking up, especially because he is pink. In “Steamy Sodor,” Thomas is in charge., but he’s a bit quick to make decisions without listening to the input of others. When everything turns into disaster as a result, Thomas apologizes and takes action to fix the engines’ problems. In “The Early Bird,” it’s up to Thomas to deliver the mail. He thinks he can do it all on his own, and won’t take any tips on how to do it. He inadvertently wakes up all the other engines too early by whistling early in the morning. This made the other engines incapable of doing their work later since they were too tired. Thomas realizes that maybe he should have asked for directions and listened to others. Between the episodes, Driver Perkins talks to the children showing how to paint an engine (with sparkle smoke), playing games such as “Pin the Funnel on Percy,” and choosing music. Child Juror Comments: I love Thomas. There is a party and they are getting ready for it. The DVD had lots of stories that were fun, but they also taught things. On the last one, they taught that you have to be quiet in the morning so you don’t wake people up so they don’t make silly mistakes. I loved when James gets turned pink. He looks very funny. DVD. 80 min.; $14.98; Ages 2-5. Lionsgate Home Entertainment.