New Video // 2005 // 49 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 29th, 2005
Forty years of happy kids can't be wrong.
Leo Lionni is a legendary children's book writer whose colorful, unorthodox illustration methods, combined with stories with moral themes, have made him an enduring name in preschools across the country.
This disc includes five Leo Lionni stories, all adapted straight from his published works. With the trademark illustrations still in place, these stories are literally moving versions of the books. The five stories are as follows:
The titular fish utilizes quick wits and courage, as well as persuasive ocean rhetoric, to convince a group of cowering fish to stand up against some marauding tuna.
Frederick is a field mouse who marches to the beat of a different drummer. While his mouse brethren frantically prepare for the upcoming winter, Frederick soaks up the sun. Soon, the rest of the mice will be grateful for Frederick and his laziness.
* "Fish Is Fish"
Fish and the tadpole are the best of friends. But one day the tadpole takes off, and when he returns later he is a fully grown frog. The frog then wows Fish with stories of the outside world.
* "It's Mine"
Three selfish frogs living on an island constantly bicker over who can lay claim to what part of their habitat. Eventually, a grumpy brown frog tells them off, but the three won't learn their valuable lesson of sharing until a ferocious thunderstorm ravages the island.
This is the story of a crocodile named Cornelius who can walk on his hind legs. As a result of his ability he is made privy to scenery his crocodile pals can't see. Will he be ostracized or embraced as a pioneer of crocodile anthropomorphism?
All five of these stories, running at about ten minutes each, are charming. They are, however, certainly geared toward the preschool age; I would say two- to four-year-olds would be the ideal demographic. Kindergarteners might appreciate the visceral appeal but would probably find the subject matter too young. Potheads might also find the vivid color and sometime surreal imagery engaging as well.
While I attended grad school I worked in a preschool with three-year-olds. They loved Lionni, which is a testament to the staying power of the author, whose stories on this disc date as far back as 1967.
Scholastic has packaged three additional stories with the disc: "Each Peach, Pear, Plum," "Hush Little Baby," and "Let's Give Kitty a Bath." None of these inclusions have anything to do with Lionni, and they are actually pretty dated, but toddlers won't care.
For those looking for some entertaining, quality stories with a point, Lionni can't be beat. Take a gander at Swimmy.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: New Video
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 49 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Three Bonus Stories
* Scholastic Video Site