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Product Type: Video
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 


2012 Award
Origami Studio Book & DVD
(Michael G. LaFosse, Tuttle Publishing $16.99 Score:)

Tuttle has been the publisher of the best Origami books for years. Now they have taken it to the next level by packaging it along with a DVD that can be stopped and started as you work step by step to follow and learn all the folds. In no time you and your child will be able to make fish, flapping birds, butterflies,  boxes--among so many other shapes. Use these to decorate the house for the holidays. Use them for a fun way to refine visual and fine motor skills along with patience all with fun payoffs. The kit comes with 70 sheets of colorful origami paper. This is so much better than a book and paper alone.  It's a book, a DVD, and a craft kit all in one. The DVD holds your hand and makes this ancient art form easier than ever!

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Awards
McKenna Shoots for the Stars
(American Girl $14.95 Score:)

Aspiring young gymnasts will relate to McKenna's ambitious dreams of becoming an Olympic star. Even non-gymnists will find common ground with her school problems and need for a tutor and the rivalry that grows when her childhood friend becomes jealous of McKenna's new friendship with her tutor. Though the music is somewhat intrusive and the situations a bit predictable, this is like the old after school specials with lots of good messages and events that echo kid's own experiences. McKenna's tutor is wheelchair bound and though she is older and wiser, McKenna learns a lot about friendship and supporting someone else's needs as the story develops. It also delivers a serious message that needing the help of others is noto something to be ashamed of at any age. This is a film for school aged kids, not preschoolers. I hr. 35 min.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
The Magic School Bus 25th Anniversary
(Scholastic $50 Score:)

Believe it or not-- it is the 25th Anniversary of The Magic School Bus show. We reviewed these shows when they arrived on the scene and many of the kids who saw the original shows are parents! Now they are available in a collection of eight DVDs. An entertaining way to introduce school aged kids to some basic science with playful turns. It includes among others...tours inside the human body, a trip to prehistoric times, an adventure in outer space. This award winning series includes an activity booklet and a guide for parents, too.  A new generation can fall in love with Miss Frizzle and her Magic School Bus! 5-9

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012.

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2011 Award
Good Night, Gorilla and more wacky animal adventures
(Scholastic $20 Score:)

You'll find many, many worthwhile stories to share on this three DVD set with 16 animal tales that have stood the test of time. Along with Good Night Gorilla there is Happy Birthday Moon, The Napping House, The Rainbabies, Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin, and Elizabeth's Doll. These are all good choices for bedtime viewing. The second disk leads with that old favorite, Danny and the Dinosau and includes The Island of Slog, T is for Terrible, and Stanley and the Dinosaurs. The third DVD includes several gems: THe Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash, Dr DeSoto, FLossie and the Fox, First the Egg, What Do You Do With a Tail Like That? and Joey Runs Away. As a bonus there are author and illustrator interviews that will interest older viewers and several of the stories are done in both English and Spanish. All together you are getting close to three hours of entertainment that you can dole out as a special treat. Built into the stories are reading skills and science concepts.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Disneynature, Oceans, Combo Pack
(Disney $39.99 Score:)

Stunning film footage of the sea and the creatures that live below. Narrated by Pierce Brosnan, this is a bit on the slow side and he sounds sort of like a minister with that solemn sound. The music is rather hypnotic and though it is somewhat varied, it is no match for the film footage which is spectacular. This might be a perfect choice for budding oceanographers or for settling down together for quiet time. March of the Penguins, it is not. In one scene where a school of fish is hunted from below by dolphins and above by sea birds, the drama is apparent, but this event simply goes on and on. Similarly, when baby turtle scurry to reach the sea they are snapped up by sea birds, but the snatching of the hatchlings feels like it will never end. That said, it is probably worth a rental and you can fast forward from time to time. Available in a combo pack with blu-ray and a regular disk.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Disneynature: Crimson Wing - The Mystery of the Flamingo
(Disney $39.99 Score:)

Like their new release Oceans, there is magnificent film footage but the editor needed to cut some of it down a bit. It is a gorgeous film that follows the life cycle of the flamingos of Tanzania. But the narration by Melanie Finn has a solemn sound that is way slow and unvaried. Sounds a little like church or temple talk. For young viewers this is way long. Though there are similarities to the March of the Penguins, but this just doesn't have the vitality that made the Antarctic mating grounds and coming of age come alive as a story. That said it held interest to older viewers. A scene with time lapse photography showing the formation of a salt island where the nests are built is stunning and when it is deserted it has the look of a lunar landscape. If only it could be edited down and the voice could be enlivened this would have been a platinum. That said, it is still worth a rental. This is a two-Disk Blu-ray/DVD Combo. It can also be purchased as a single DVD at a lower price. 10 & up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Families of Afghanistan
(Master Communications $29.99 Score:)

One of a series of films that introduce children to families from distant lands. Told by a 12 and 13-year girls, one in Kabul, an urban setting; the other in a rural village. In both instances, the chores each are expected to do, the schools they attend, and their day to day lives present a real contrast to each other and an even more dramatic contrast to the lives of young American viewers. This feels more like a school film than home entertainment, yet, the stories here are interesting. Given the fact that so many young people have family and friends who are serving in Afghanistan and it is so much in the news, this may well be a film worth sharing. Although the film makers were no allowed to film schools the children attended or many street scenes, the information and material they did film will likely interest young viewers who are curious about this troubled and troubling place where it seems war never ends. They say 5 & up, we'd say this is more appropriate for 7 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Families of Kenya
(Master Communications $29.95 Score:)

One of a series of films that introduce children to families from distant lands. Told by two 11-year old boys, one in Nairobi, an urban setting, one in a rural setting who lives on a farm. In both instances, the chores each are expected to do, the schools they attend and their day to day lives present a real contrast to each other and an even more dramatic contrast to the lives of young viewers. This feels more like a school film than home entertainment for home, yet, they are more interesting than so much of the fare directed at young audiences. This includes some footage from a game preserve with African wildlife, as well as dances and some footage on how the families earn their living. They say 5 & up, we'd say this is more appropriate for 7 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
So You Want to be President and more stories
(Scholastic $14.95 Score:)

Just in time for Presidents' Week, a new DVD with several stories that kids can listen to or read along with as they watch. The lead story on this DVD is an animated version of the popular book, So You Want to be President, illustrated with delightfully cartoonish images by David Small. It's told with amusing anecdotes about some of our most famous presidents. It's full of fun factoids and narrated by a former first lady, of sorts, Stockard Channing, of West Wing. Madam President was written and illustrated by Lane Smith and tells the story of a girl who imagines what it would be like to be President. Maybe one of the young viewers will actually grow up to do the deed!  I Could Do That! Tells the true story of Esther Morris who worked to get women the vote. Finally, in My Senator and Me, the late Senator Edward Kennedy and his dog Splash give kids a typical day on Capitol Hill. 5-10.


Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World & More Stories
(Scholastic $14.95 Score:)

The lead story was not only written by Martin Luther King, Jr.'s sister, Christine King Ferris, it is narrated with a moving performance by Lynn Whitfield and includes brief clips of Mahalia Jackson's singing, MLK's speech and the roar of the crowd. Cleverly produced with London Ladd's illustrations from the book combined with photo images from the memorable day of the I Have a Dream speech at the mall. But as they say on infomercials, that's not all. The other three stories on this DVD are equally marvelous Platinum Award winning books : Nikki Giovanni's Rosa, Doreen Rappaport's Martin's Big Words and Ellen Levine's marvelous Henry's Freedom Box:A True Story from the Underground Railroad. But, wait! That's not all! There are two memorable interviews with Christine King Ferris and Ellen Levine.   They say 5-10, we'd say this is more like a good choice for 7-12 and up. 

 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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