Judge Denise Louis's inner child says "Me gusta."
For children who want to learn more about their Hispanic roots.
All I could think of when I saw the cover of this DVD was Dora The Explorer, and how much that show annoyed me. I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to use the DVDs of the show for target practice. With gun at the ready, I popped in this DVD—and found myself pleasantly surprised.
Do you remember back when you were a small and curious child? When learning new things about anyone or anything was always exciting? When everyone explained things to you in a falsely animated voice with absolute, perfect diction? Nah, me either. But the people at Saber Latino attempt to jog that warm, fuzzy feeling with the overly-cute Myths, Legends & Traditional Holidays from Latin America.
Two women with an assignment to research their Latin roots have decided to take you along on their animated journey through their own history. Well actually, one woman is named Ana (Claudia Cazorla) while the other claims to be her little brother Andres (Mónica Santana). But I digress. After an animated introduction, Ana and Andres narrate over stylized illustrations of nine separate tales from within Latin American culture.
Amazon.com says that this DVD is for children who want to learn more about their Hispanic roots, or non-Hispanic children who want to learn about a different culture. While I agree with the statement, this DVD is obviously geared toward the former. The animation was originally synched to Spanish dialogue and most stories include Spanish terms that simply aren't explained in the narration. A working knowledge of these terms (including the history behind them) will greatly improve how well you understand the various stories. This isn't to say that it's impossible for everyone else: the DVD extras include a glossary. It's just that the large number of terms makes reading the glossary afterward for clarification much less effective.
The stories themselves are told well. Other than the logic problems contained in almost any myth, there's almost nothing to stop you from being engrossed.
I had but two trivial gripes. The last myth, "La Llorona," is very short and never fully explained. It's supposed to be about a ghost who calls out for her children in the night, except you're never told why. Then there's the story behind the Feast of Saint James the Apostle. As part of the celebration of the women, men dress up as overweight females who carry brooms to sweep out bad spirits. Kids, can you say "sexism?"
As I mentioned earlier, each story starts of with an animated intro and is then told through illustrations. Neither the animation or illustrations are breath-taking, but they serve their purpose. It also doesn't hurt that video quality is consistent throughout. You have the choice of listening to the narration in English or Spanish and both tracks are flawless. The change in language also has a corresponding change in menu style which I thought was a nice touch. There isn't much in the way of extras—the aforementioned glossary, a calendar of the holidays mentioned, and a trivia game which is impossible to fail—but I honestly wasn't expecting much anyway. This is one of those DVDs where the main content is what it's all about, and I think it delivers.
Overall this is definitely a DVD you, your inner child, and your outer child can enjoy. If you have a half hour, an extra twenty bucks, and a small desire to learn, go out and buy it.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Saber Latino
• Trivia Game
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