Scholastic Video // 2002 // 48 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Chief Justice Michael Stailey // January 15th, 2004
Beloved stories come alive in a celebration of friendship, learning, and growing up.
More animated tales from the Scholastic Video Collection. While, for some, the books themselves may prove to be the best source of enjoyment for these stories, most adapt quite well to their often uniquely animated form. This particular release, Good Night, Gorilla and More Bedtime Stories, presents a medley of nighttime narratives.
Good Night, Gorilla (9 min, 1998)
Written and Illustrated by Peggy Rathmann.
Narrated by Anthony Edwards.
As a sleepy zookeeper makes his evening rounds, an ambitious young gorilla swipes the keys and proceeds to unlock the cages of all the animals on his route. Before you know it, a conga line of zoo residents are winding their way through the park and ultimately into the zookeepers home. As all creatures great and small settle in for a good night's rest, the zookeeper's wife awakes to find her home has become the Serengeti. Taking all the animals back to their respective homes, she returns to her own for a peaceful sleep.
Thoughts: Cute and entertaining story sure to brighten the face of any young child, and bring a smile to the adults.
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? (7 min, 2002)
Written by Janet Yolen. Illustrated by Mark Teague.
Narrated by Janet Yolen.
Children in town wonder what bedtime would be like if they were dinosaurs and their parents tried to send them off to sleep. Would they stomp their feet, or smash their tails, let out a roar, or let their wings soar? No, they would kiss their parents and go to sleep.
Thoughts: While the lyrical nature of the narrative may prove quite effective while reading, to an adult this computer animated version comes across as trite and plodding. Who knows, the kids may love it.
Happy Birthday, Moon (7 min, 1985)
Written and Illustrated by Frank Asch.
Narrated by Melissa Leebaert.
On the eve of his own birthday, a young bear cub tries desperately to celebrate the birth of the Moon. He travels far and wide to get as close to the Moon as he possibly can, to start a discussion. Imagine his surprise when the moon answers back -- little does he realize it's an echo of his own voice.
Thoughts: A simple but cute concept that will play very well with the little ones.
The Napping House (4 min, 1985)
Written by Audrey Wood. Illustrated by Don Wood.
Narrated by Melissa Leebaert.
A variation on "The House that Jack Built" finds a lovable, sleeping Grandma in her big bed and all of her family and pets that pile on throughout the night.
Thoughts: Unoriginal and uninspired, people claim it reads beautifully, but as a non-animated video, it will likely put you and your kids to sleep.
Presented in 1.33:1 full frame format, the transfers of these films range from chaste to crap. Two of the main features -- Happy Birthday, Moon and The Napping House -- look like their negatives were left in the driveway and run over multiple times by the family station wagon. The three bonus tales are the most unsullied of the collection, with bright, vivid colors and little sign of dirt or degradation. The Dolby 2.0 audio tracks are serviceable enough for animated shorts with little more than a narrative and musical underscore. Although the dirtier the print, the dirtier the track.
The bonus materials included feature three stories from three different decades. Why these three did not receive top billing is anyone's guess. Okay, so they're not bedtime related, but each is a gem.
The Paperboy (8 min, 2000)
Far and away the highlight of this release. Forest Whitaker narrates a day in the life of a young paperboy and his dog. Leveraging the painted imagery of author Dav Pilkey, this is a heartwarming tale for any age.
Patrick (7 min, 1968)
A musical journey through one magical day. When young Patrick purchases a second hand violin, his music winds up brightening the world of everyone around him.
The Hat (6 min, 1970)
From Italy comes this unusual and engaging tale. The hat of a rich aristocrat blows away and lands in the hands of an elderly, downtrodden soldier who proceeds to utilize it in performing random acts of kindness and heroism.
The remaining bonus materials, like the other Scholastic Video releases, include a read-along feature (nothing more than English subtitles) and a studio trailer.
At $14.95, I will not fault New Video for bringing these diverse tales to children who may have otherwise never experienced them. However, I will question the thought behind how they are being released. Drop the unoriginal, vanilla stories and go for the ones that leave a strong, vivid impression. Oh well, as Dennis Miller would say, "That's just my opinion. I could be wrong." This court is adjourned.
Review content copyright © 2004 Michael Stailey; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Scholastic Video
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 48 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus Stories: "The Paperboy," "Patrick," and "The Hat"
* Read-Along Option
* Studio Trailer