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DVD Review: Scholastic Storybook Treasures – The Scrambled States of America

Scholastic’s Storybook Treasures DVD series turn popular children’s picture books into animated shorts. Recently, my children and I had the opportunity to review The Scrambled States of America and More Stories by Laurie Keller, narrated by Michael McKean and others.

We were already fans of Keller’s Scrambled States books and games; my kids are enormously amused by these whimsical cartoon states who trot off to different parts of the country, craving new climes and experiences. In this DVD version, the states are given funny voices to go along with their wide grins and expressive eyeballs. My children, especially the four-year-old, could not stop giggling.

In the first story, Kansas is tired of being stuck in the middle of the country. He’s bored, bored, bored. The states decide to liven things up with a party, and after much merriment, instead of heading back to their respective corners of the map, they switch places with each other. At first it’s great fun; Kansas basks in the peaceful ocean vacated by Hawaii, and Florida heads north to experience some snow. But after a while, the novelty wears thin. Snow, Florida discovers, is cold. And nobody warned poor Minnesota about the importance of sunscreen in a hot southern climate.

Eventually, all 50 states head back home with a new appreciation of their old locales. Like Keller’s books, this animated story brings U.S. geography to life with goofy jokes and vivid colors.

Like all the DVDs in the Storybook Treasures series, there’s a “read-along” option that allows you toggle onscreen text on and off. In my house, we often watch tv with the captions on in order to give our emergent readers a little boost to literacy, so the text-on option appeals to me. The words of the story appear in white at the bottom of the screen and turn blue as the actors speak them.

Also included on this DVD are: “The Scrambled States of America Talent Show,” “Do Unto Otters (A Book about Manners),” and “Open Wide: Tooth School Inside,” plus an interview with Laurie Keller and a short music video featuring the Tooth School characters. For my gang, those wacky Scrambled States are definitely the chief attraction.

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