Judge David Johnson thinks that the only magic pebbles this disc's target audience has are buried in their noses.
Note to self: Don't ever wish to be a rock.
Ah, another fine storybook entry from the good folks at Scholastic. These discs may not be the hyper-kinetic Yoohoo-snorting ilk of the current crop of kiddie animation, but what they lack in explosions and spaceships they more than make up for in quality. These are old-school stories, taken directly from their source books, complete with the original illustrations. So it's just like reading these stories to your kids, except there's no cumbersome page turning and you don't sound like John Lithgow.
This DVD sports four stories in all—three in the main program, and a special bonus story. And here they are:
• "Sylvester and the Magic Pebble," by William Steig
Sure, this is a much-loved story, but I dare you to think about it and not be horrified. Sylvester must endure life as motionless rock, unable to call for help or move. Yikes! Imagine being a conscious rock! Well, of course there's a happy ending, and family love triumphs, and all that, but for a while there this could have been a Tales from the Crypt episode. Lithgow narrates.
• "Possum Magic," by Mem Fox
This is one of those nutty little stories that points to a possible drug addiction for the author. A magic-casting possum that deliberately turns little kids invisible? Can you imagine a bunch of invisible five-year-olds running amok?
• "Princess Furball," by Charlotte Huck
This is a gimmicky little fable that drags its feet towards the end story-wise, but kids should like it. But where have I seen this rags-to-princess idea before?
• "The Wizard," by Jack Kent
The most animated of all the stories, "The Wizard" is more a cartoon than any of the stories that precede it. There are some amusing scenes of the mouse conjecturing about what his life would be like as a different animal. Self-esteem morals abound.
The programs are presented in a rich, colorful fullscreen format. Sound is 2.0 stereo, but since everything is so dialogue-centric, audio output is mainly limited to the center channel. A Spanish version of "Sylvester and the Magic Pebble" and a "read-along" option, which simply turns on the English subtitles, represent the bonus materials.
This is another charming little set Scholastic has put together for parents of small children. While the older kids may be apt to lose interest in the pan-and-scan still image style of the stories (there is some limited animation in "Sylvester and the Magic Pebble" and "Possum Magic"), the rugrats should lap it up.
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
• "The Wizard" Bonus Story
Review content copyright © 2005 David Johnson; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.