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DVD Review: Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed… and More Children’s Stories

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Has it really been 11 years since Chloë came home from preschool reciting “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed”? I’d never heard it before and, of course, I was absolutely charmed with her rendition. I immediately got her the board book.

When Scholastic Storybook Treasures announced that Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed would be released on August 24, I was thrilled. This delightful rhyme is accompanied by Manny Hernandez translating it into American Sign Language. Eileen Christelow’s original illustrations are shown, and Ryland Hale provides the voice narration. The story has captions for early readers; the captions can be turned off for non-readers and those who just want to watch. Turning the sound off and the captions on provides a nice ASL lesson. The limited animation brings life to the five little monkeys and their mama, and Hernandez’s signing is spirited and cheerful. I’d gladly join any children who want to watch this video again and again.

The second story, “Little Quack” (written by Laura Thompson, illustrated by Derek Anderson), features another mama with five babies, this time a duck and her ducklings. This time Mama wants jumping—she is encouraging her five scared babies to jump into the pond and swim. The ducklings snuggle up in the nest afraid, but one by one they join Mama in the pond. Missy Keast does the signing for Little Quack and her animated facial expressions and body language complement her ASL interpretation. Allison Karman narrates. Keast and Karman inject a little bit of suspense into the tale—will Little Quack swim?

“There’s Something In My Attic,” written and illustrated by Mercer Mayer, is the final story on Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed. Keast and Kaplan again provide the storytelling. A little girl and her family move from the city to a farm; the child is scared by night sounds coming from the attic. “It’s probably mice,” say Mom and Dad. The girl puts on her cowboy boots and hat, grabs a lasso, and proceeds to the attic to catch the nightmare and show her parents. In the attic there is a pile of toys the girl thought were missing and she realizes she has uncovered a mystery. Suddenly there are footsteps on the stairs…is it the nightmare? Yes! I won’t tell you what happens next, you’ll have to see the video.

Bright, breezy original music by Randy Hale provides the soundtrack for all three stories, emphasizing their tone. DVD extras include vocabulary for each story and ASL demonstration of the signs for many of the nouns and verbs. There are also mini-quizzes that test comprehension, and a presentation of the American Sign Language alphabet.

Bottom Line: Would I buy Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed? Yes—the stories are fun and I am particularly in favor of children learning sign language. It’s the one language that can be communicated concurrently with their native language—that’s pretty cool!

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