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DVD Review: Treasury of 50 Storybook Classics: Animal Antics and More

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Scholastic debuts a Treasury of 50 Storybook Classics: Animal Antics and More. This seven-disk box set has a lot of great things to tout, including  stories that have won 80 awards (the Caldecott Medal and the NAPPA Gold Award among them), and celebrity voice narration by Meryl Streep, Sarah Jessica Parker, John Lithgow, and others.

I was very excited to review these Storybook Classics since some of my childhood favorites, "The Story About Ping" and "Owl Moon" (winner of the 1988 Caldecott Medal) are featured. Not only could I reminisce about the tales I loved as a child, but I can now share them with my own child.

A majority of the classics are video images of the actual book pages while a narrator reads along, but a few of the 50 stories have been "given life" by animation in this series, with the same narration style. Personally, I don't have a preference between the two different versions, and because the video images are rarely still images they tend to push the story along rather than hold it back.

I like this set because it has a great read-along feature that encourages the viewer to read with the narrator and is read at a good pace a majority of the time. There are a few stories that are read a little too quickly for the read-along version but you always have the option to turn off this feature at the menu for each disk.

Each of the seven disks is categorized in a way that emphasizes each book but also creates a nice flow between the stories included on the "themed" disk. For example, "Make Way For Ducklings…and More Delightful Duck Stories" includes six different and great stories all about ducks and birds.

To facilitate learning, Scholastic has incorporated Spanish as well as English in four out of the seven disks. I appreciate that you have the option to watch both the English version and the Spanish version back to back. What better way to learn another language than to read and listen to the classics?

As a technical side note and to my initial dismay, each disk in this set had skips somewhere throughout the stories on my DVD player. I figured my DVD player was the issue and not a malfunction of Scholastic disks themselves. To be sure, I played the disks in other players and fortunately they played just fine. In case this happens to you, be sure to try alternate viewing methods with another DVD player.

While this set is recommended for children ages 2-8 years, I suggest you watch the episodes beforehand to make sure each is appropriate for your individual child as there are a few potentially scary parts throughout.

If you are looking for great animation, fun graphics, and high definition quality then these DVDs are not for you. However, if you're looking for some great classics that will continue to capture their audiences, then Treasury of 50 Storybook Classics: Animal Antics And More is the children's DVD box set you have been searching for.

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