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DVD Review: Scholastic Storybook Treasures, Language Learning Collection, featuring Jorge, el monito ciclista

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The new DVD from the Scholastic Storybook Treasures, Language Learning Collection, Jorge, el monito ciclista, is a great introduction to some classic children’s books, as well as a clever way for kids to learn a new language. The set includes three DVDs, with 10 stories, with read-along captioning in either Spanish or English.

Kids will have fun listening to the stories being narrated to them and, depending on their age, also being able to easily flip between the Spanish and English read-along subtitles. So many of the stories are quite well-known and may already be on their bookshelves at home — which will make the Spanish versions even easier to interpret.

The three DVDs are as follows:

Disc 1: Jorge, el monito ciclista, (featuring six stories in Spanish, one in English, with a running time of approximately 72 minutes plus extras, including the Scholastic trailer.)

The first disc includes some classic stories and characters, including Curious George, Chrysanthemum and The Dot, with themes that encourage self reliance and confidence.

Jorge, el monito ciclista – An adventure with the little monkey Curious George, written by H.A. and illustrated by Margaret Rey. There is also an extra version of the story in English. George is gifted with a new bicycle from the man in the yellow hat and decides to try it out. He soon finds himself downtown, helping deliver papers, sailing boats in a lake, and even being featured in a local circus.

Crisantemo – Written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, this is a nice story about a little mouse learning just how special her name is — and learning to not let what others say make her feel bad.

La maravillosa Grace – A lovely story by Mary Hoffman, with illustrations by Caroline Birch. Grace discovers that she can do anything she sets her mind on — that no one can hold her back.

Por que los mosquitos zumban en los oidos de la gente – A fun story by Verna Aardema, with illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon. Based on the African folktale, the story tells the reason behind why the mosquito buzzes, and how that has affected all the animals (and why when we see a mosquito we want to swat it).

Silvestre y la piedrecita magica – Another classic tale, this one written and illustrated by William Steig. Sylvester the donkey makes some wishes on a magic pebble and his wishes come true — which may not be the best thing for Sylvester.

El Punto – Another story encouraging childern to believe in their abilites, written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. Vashti thinks she can’t draw until her teacher encourages her.

Disc 2: Chato y su Cena, (featuring four stories, three in Spanish, one in English, with read-along in Spanish or English, and a running time of approximately 48 minutes).

The second disc features the coolest cat in the barrio, Chato, and his very hip neighborhood pals. Adapted from books by Gary Soto, with wonderful and lively illustrations by Susan Guevara. they are fun and funny adaptations that kids will love.

Chato y su Cena, and the English version, Chato’s Kitchen, are both narrated by Cheech Marin. In the first story Chato invites a family of mice to “dinner.”

Chato y los amigos pachangueros and the English version, Chato and the Party Animals, narrated by Luis Guzman. Chato throws a surprise birthday party for best buddy Novio Boy. He invites everyone he knows in the barrio — except the guest of honor!

Disc 3: Harry, el perrito sucio (featuring four stories, two in Spanish, two in English, with read-along in Spanish or English, and a running time of approximately 40 minutes).

Both of these charming stories featuring animals will delight children.

Harry, el perrito sucio, and the English version, Harry the Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion, illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham, narrated by Bruce Johnson. Kids will love how Harry, who hates taking a bath, manages to avoid it for quite a while, and has a great time running around town while he puts off the inevitable. Especially fun is how this white dog changes to a black one and than back again.

Que Bonita es Panama! and the English version, Panama, written and illustrated by Janosch, narrated by Judy Duris. Is Panama really a better place for the little bear and his friends than where they are already?

The stories are geared towards kids five to nine years old, but I enjoyed brushing up on my high school Spanish with my seven-year-old, and challenging myself to listen and read the Spanish captioning, and I suspect most other parents will do the same. Scholastic Storybook Treasures, Language Learning Collection, Jorge, el monito ciclista is fun for the whole family – stories to enjoy and Spanish vocabulary and phrases to learn.

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