As a young child, I grew up on Scholastic books (and book orders). I fondly remember the joy of cracking open stories like "Where The Wild Things Are?" and "Harold And The Purple Crayon." Now, years later, Scholastic is still going strong and has extended their business to animated read-along story DVDs. While the discs can't replace the actual books themselves, the Scholastic Storybook Treasures series should unquestionably please children.
"Knuffle Bunny...And More Great Childhood Adventures" contains 4 stories (plus 2 extra).
1. Knuffle Bunny (written by Mo Willems) follows a father and his daughter taking a trip to the laundromat. On the way home from the laundromat, the child (Trixie) realizes she left her stuffed rabbit behind. Not being able to speak yet, she tries desperately to communicate with her father. "Knuffle Bunny" is cute and touching, especially since author Mo Willems and his real life daughter Trixie Willems narrate the story together. Their narration gives the story a true-to-life feeling to it.
2. "Shrinking Violet" (written by Cari Best and illustrated by Giselle Potter) centers around a shy girl named Violet who must gather the courage to perform a role in a play and stand up to the class bully Irwin. While "Shrinking Violet" contains an important message of overcoming nerves and being comfortable with one's self, I felt the conclusion of the story was a bit of a cheat. Instead of Violet performing on stage, she gets a speaking part off stage. Had Violet overcome her fears by acting on stage with her classmates, the triumph over her shyness would have had a greater impact. Calista Flockhart narrates the story.
3. "Possum Magic"- The plot: Grandma Possum uses her magical powers to turn another Possum (Hush) invisible. Hush enjoys her gift at first, but she quickly wants to become visible again. For some reason, Grandma Possum can't recall how to make her visible (how convenient), so she and Hush scour Australia in search of foods that will make her visible again. The story (written by Mem Fox, who also narrates the short) is nothing groundbreaking, bu the water color illustrations (by Julie Vivas) of possums, koalas, emus, etc. are positively breathtaking.
4. "Planting A Rainbow" (written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert) is a simple story of a family planting a garden full of dazzling flowers. As little plot as the story may have, "Planting A Rainbow" succeeds because of the strong themes of family bonding and the wonders of nature. My only complaint with this animated tale is the obnoxious songs by Crystal Taliefero. The tunes were completely unecessary as they become tangled up with the narration by P.J. Verhoest.
The fullscreen picture quality differs from story to story as each tale has an individual animation/art style. For instance, "Shrinking Violet's" animation is more 3-dimensional, while "Planting A Rainbow" contains a rather plain looking style. Generally, however, all of the animation is full of vibrant colors that bring each story to life.
The audio specs were not listed, but the narration and music scores both sounded clear.
* A trailer for the Scholastic Video Collection featuring famous characters like Curious George and Corduroy.
* 2 bonus stories titled "Brave Irene" and "Will I Have A Friend?" Irene centers around a little girl who helps out her sick mother by delivering a dress to a Duchess. The squiggly line animation may strain the eyes, but the core story of the mother/daughter bond is identifiable. "Will I Have A Friend?" focuses on a child named Jim who is worried about not making any friends on his first day at kindergarten. This is my favorite story on this disc as Jim's experiences and feelings towards the first day of class mirrored my own (Jim even looks like me at that age!)
* Viewers have the option to turn on subtitles and read along with the story.
"Knuffle Bunny" may not have the best collection of children's stories, but all of these Scholastic titles are good hearted and enjoyable tales. Worth a rent.
Film and television enthusiast Nick Lyons recently had his first book published titled "Attack of the Sci-Fi Trivia." It is available on Amazon.com.