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DVD Review: The Wheels on the Bus Sing-Along Travel Kit

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The Wheels on the Bus Sing-Along Travel Kit is a traveler’s delight for children ages two through eight. Parents whose cars are equipped with CD and DVD players can bring it on extended car trips (or even trips across town) to entertain their antsy kids. In addition to two DVDs and a musical CD, the kit includes an activity book featuring popular children's book characters and four crayons. The videos need not be limited to use while traveling, though; they are great entertainment for the little ones.

Many of the videos presented in this set feature music—some are about music, some are actually songs, and some are stories followed by sing-a-long songs. Like many Scholastic Storybook Treasures, some are simple readings, some feature limited animation, and others are fully animated. The read-along feature allows viewers to watch with or without subtitles, and is especially appropriate for new readers. Words are highlighted as they are read, making it easy to keep up with the on-video readers.

Some of the stories in The Wheels on the Bus Sing-Along Travel Kit are pure entertainment and others teach. There is a gently beautiful counting story ("Over in the Meadow"), a bright lesson on insects ("Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!"), a funny anatomy lesson ("Dem Bones"), and a joyous tribute to the colors of children ("All the Colors of the Earth"). Hearing the wonderful Brooklyn intonations of Cyndi Lauper ("There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly") emphasizes the diversity presented in these stories.

The two DVDs included in The Wheels on the Bus Sing-Along Travel Kit are:

The Wheels on the Bus…and more musical stories featuring "The Wheels on the Bus" (sung by The Bacon Brothers), "Joseph Had a Little Overcoat," "Musical Max," and "Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!"; and three bonus stories: "All the Colors of the Earth," "Keeping House," and "Hush Little Baby." Extras are: "Musical Max – Spanish Version," an interview with author/illustrator Bob Barner ("Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!"), read-along, and discussion questions.

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly…and more sing-along favorites features the title ditty sung by Cyndi Lauper, "This Land Is Your Land" sung by Arlo Guthrie, "Frog Went A-Courtin’," and "Over in the Meadow;" and four bonus stories: "Giraffes Can’t Dance," "Dem Bones," "The Chinese Violin," and "Changes, Changes." Extra: read-along, trailer.

The CD, The Wheels on the Bus…and more sing-along songs, features some of the songs from the DVDs, and a selection of additional songs. The songs represent a variety of styles including country, rock, pop, folk, and jazz. The inspirational genre takes a ribbing with the hilariously satirical “Tooth School Anthem,” and Mary Chapin Carpenter delivers the kicky “Gonna Read to My Bunny” with characteristic finesse.

Like many collections, viewers will find that they enjoy some stories more than others, but all of the stories are well made, and each has unique strengths (such as the imaginative "Changes, Changes"). I found every story engaging, and would find it difficult to choose a favorite (though I am definitely partial to Cyndi Lauper, not to mention that old lady with the wild appetite). Refreshingly, these videos are violence-free. Parents (and other caretakers) who share them with their children will find that they can concentrate on the messages delivered and not spend their time explaining why certain things aren’t acceptable.

Bottom Line: Would I buy The Wheels on the Bus Sing-Along Travel Kit? Yes, even for children who wouldn’t be traveling any further than their backyards.

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