Judge David Johnson fears that stories like these send the wrong message to kids about dinosaur safety.
Don't be scared! These monster stories just want to have a little fun…
Scholastic returns with another helping of recycled animated stories based on popular children's books from back in the day. Danny and the Dinosaur features five stories in all, including the titular story, The Island of Skog, The Beast of Monsieur Racine, and two bonus entries: Here Comes the Cat! and Stanley and the Dinosaurs.
All five of the stories are fully animated, and the last one, Stanley and the Dinosaurs, is rendered through stop-motion, which is pretty cool. This disc is the only Scholastic release I recall that ever shied away from the static pan-and-scan stories of way-back-when. That's not to say the animation is Pixar-level, but everything moves around nice enough.
Let's have a closer gander at these stories:
• "Danny and the Dinosaur"
Young Danny, bored out of his skull one day, decides to check out what excruciatingly fun times are going down at the museum. While he peruses the cornucopia of educational attractions, he begins to wonder if he hadn't made a terrible mistake (okay, that's not in the story, but I don't think it's a big leap to posit this). Well, life soon gets a lot more interesting when he comes face to face with a giant dinosaur from the prehistoric exhibit. Even cooler, the dinosaur starts talking to Danny, and together the two chums leave the museum and start walking around the town, getting into various adventures, not one of which involves Danny being devoured and excreted onto the street.
It's minimalist storytelling, but kids love the juxtaposition of huge animals and diminutive protagonists.
Progressive School Grade: HH for Happiness and Harmony.
• "The Island of the Skog"
This story, narrated by ER's Anthony Edwards, tells the story of a group of mice who, desperate to escape a roving band of cats, hops into a surprisingly complex sailboat and heads to a mysterious island. Unfortunately, the island appears to be inhabited by a giant creature. The mystery is eventually unraveled, and it has nothing to do with a bunch of numbers or an underground hatch.
Mice are fun!
Progressive School Grade: LL is for Learning to Love each other!
• "The Beast of Monsieur Racine"
Monsieur Racine is a freaky little Frenchman obsessed with his pear tree (one sequence features Racine lavishly making out with his fruit). When an odd creature steals Racine's pears, the little bastard freaks out, hunts down the creature, catches it, and carts it over to the Academy of Science. But what exactly is the creature?
A playful tale with a creepy character and twist ending.
Progressive School Grade: WPF is for Weird Pear-Fondling
The bonus stories offer more cat and mice mischief ("Here Comes the Cat!") and some lessons in Darwinian fun ("Stanley and the Dinosaurs"). Both stories are on the relatively long end—running north of ten minutes—and should provide ample entertainment for the kiddies.
Disc features are the same as before: full screen, 2.0 stereo, auto-play option, and a read-along (a.k.a. subtitles).
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Scholastic Video
• Bonus Stories
Review content copyright © 2005 David Johnson; Site design and review layout copyright © 2015 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.