Scholastic Video // 2004 // 54 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Treadway (Retired) // March 13th, 2004
Fun stories about friendship are perfect for sharing!
Scholastic Video continues their unusual series of bringing top-notch children's books to life on celluloid and now on DVD.
Corduroy and More Stories about Friendship contains three stories -- including a Caldecott Award winner -- on a single disc:
Joe Mantegna (Homicide, The Simpsons) produced this 15-minute live action adaptation of Don Freeman's classic 1968 book. A young girl named Lisa adores a misfit stuffed bear, but her mother won't allow her to purchase him because of one missing button. At night, the doll comes to life and tries to find its missing button. The tale slows down a bit toward the middle, but this is a fine adaptation of the book. I defy anyone in the audience not to shed a tear by the bittersweet end.
* Yo! Yes?
Chris Raschka's Caldecott Award-winning book is brought to life in this traditionally animated short. Two boys, one white and one black, attempt to communicate through their own distinctive styles. It's a nice look at how people of different races can get along nicely once they cross seemingly difficult barriers.
* Here Comes the Cat
An animated masterpiece from Russia, based on the children's book by Frank Asch and Vladimir Vagan. A mouse village is threatened by the impending arrival of a cat. But the mice will discover that things are not what they seem. It's stunningly animated by Russian animators -- you will marvel at the detail and beauty contained in every frame.
New Video presents us with a full frame transfer that looks surprisingly sharp and vibrant. Corduroy appears the weakest of the three shorts, mainly because it is the oldest. The colors look okay, but are a little less bold than they should be. Here Comes the Cat fares the best, with its rich, glorious colors and lovely textures. Most of the disc's minimal film defects are present in Corduroy, but there's nothing that will frustrate the purists.
Audio is a simple Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix. It sounds great throughout, with absolutely no problems or defects in the soundtrack. Many children's discs tend to skimp on aural quality, but Scholastic and New Video realize that kids deserve a quality presentation as much as adults do.
The main extra is an additional story, The Rainbabies. The animation is more or less similar to the old Golden Book VHS releases of the early '80s in which they pretty much filmed the existing book pages, then animated a few select objects. Some will object to this style, but I think it's an effective and worthwhile method of animation with the low budget in mind. As for the story itself, it's a lovely and poignant account of the sudden joy that can arrive unexpectedly even in a seemingly lonely life.
Whether you have children or just appreciate good animation, this disc is a must to own. Reasonably priced at $14.95, you'll keep popping these stories into your player again and again.
Next case please!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Scholastic Video
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 54 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus Story: The Rainbabies