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DVD Review: Chrysanthemum…and More Whimsical Stories

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Scholastic Storybook Treasures has come out with another wonderful DVD collection of favorite children’s stories, Chrysanthemum … and More Whimsical Stories. The three-disc set includes 17 stories, with a total running time of almost 4 hours. There is a nice read-long feature, with large-print, easy-to-read subtitles that make it fun for kids to read along with the narration.

Narrators of the stories include well-known actors and actresses that the parents will recognize — Meryl Streep, Sarah Jessica Parker, Patrick Stewart, Danny Glover and many others. There are also music and sound effects to help bring the stories to life. The camera zooms in on illustrations to help kids get into the story and make the pictures come to life.

The stories are arranged nicely on the three discs, so that kids can choose to watch and read animal stories on one day, or fairy tales the next, depending on which disc they choose. The age range for the collection is listed as 2-9, and the tales are a mix of longer, fuller stories and shorter more visual ones. But all children should enjoy the set, and once they’ve seen them all, can fast forward to their favorites on subsequent viewings.

The three discs, which can be played in English or Spanish are:

Disc 1 – Chrysanthemum…and More Mouse Mayhem

Chrysanthemum – Chrysanthemum, from the book by Kevin Henkes, is a little mouse with a long name, and more than a little self-conscious about it. Meryl Streep does a wonderful job narrating the story.

Owen – Sarah Jessica Parker reads the story of Owen, a mouse who really loves his yellow blanket, from another book by Kevin Henkes.

A Weekend with Wendell – In a third story by Henkes, Sophie is another little mouse who wants her noisier cousin to notice her.

The Caterpillar and the Polliwog – A caterpillar can’t wait to grow up and change into a butterfly in Jack Kent’s story.

Hondo and Fabian – In Peter McCarty’s story, Hondo the dog and Fabian the cat spend a quiet day together.

Mouse Around – Based on a book by Pat Schories, this is different from the others in that it is a live action story featuring an intrepid little mouse who takes a long journey through town.

Extras on the first disc include Spanish-language versions of Owen and The Caterpillar and the Polliwog.

Disc 2 – Rapunzel…and More Classic Fairy Tales

Rapunzel – The fairy tale about the girl with long, luxurious (and strong) hair is re-imagined in this beautifully illustrated book by Paul O. Zelinsky.

The Elves and the Shoemaker – Patrick Stewart narrates the classic fairy tale about a shoemaker who gets some much-needed help from an unlikely source, from the book by Jim LaMarche.

The Talking Eggs – Based on the book by Maxine Fisher, Danny Glover tells the story of how magic enters the life of a young girl who meets and helps an old woman.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff - The classic story, illustrated by Marcia Brown, comes to life when a very mean troll tries to stop some billy goats from crossing his bridge.

Lon Po Po – B.D. Wong narrates author Ed Young’s version of the Chinese folktale, which bears a strong resemblance to Little Red Riding Hood.

Princess Furball – In a variation on Cinderella, a king falls in love with a fur-covered princess. Narrated by Alice Krige, this is based on the book by Charlotte Huck and illustrated by Anita Lobel.

Disc 3 – Is Your Mama A Llama?…and More Classic Children’s Stories

Is Your Mama A Llama? – This children’s favorite by Deborah Guarino and illustrated by Steven Kellogg is a nice rhyming story where a little llama meets some other animals and learns who their mothers are.

Noisy Nora – Rosemary Wells’s Noisy Nora is a noisy little mouse who is looking for attention from her family.

Each Peach Pear Plum – A rhyming “I spy” story written by Allan Ahlberg and illustrated by Janet Ahlberg that combines favorite fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters with fun illustrations.

The Little Red Hen – Paul Galdone’s version of the classic story about the industrious red hen and her lazy friends, the cat, the dog, and the mouse.

Reading to Your Bunny – A nice story by Rosemary Wells promoting reading features a bunny named Freddie (as opposed to her other bunny characters, Max and Ruby), and a fun song at the end sung by Mary Chapin Carpenter.

Extras on this disk include Spanish language versions of Is Your Mama A Llama? and Noisy Nora

Chrysanthemum … and More Whimsical Stories is a nice collection that children and their parents will want to view again and again. If viewers can’t get enough of these classic stories they can also visit Scholastic’s website, where there are also some coloring sheets and other activities for kids relating to many of the stories included on the three DVDs.

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