Almost everyone has had the experience of seeing a film that was based on a book which they had read. And of course, after viewing the film, you compare the book to the movie. But, have you ever done that with a children's picture book. Surely a movie could do justice to something that simple, right? That was the issue for me to scrutinize, as I sat down to watch Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type...and More Fun on the Farm, a DVD full of animated children's classics.
(As this DVD contains 5 different episodes, each will receive a capsule review which includes an overview of the video and audio aspects as well. It can be assumed that these shorts were captured on film for classroom use. Each contains a stereo soundtrack. Some of these shorts are quite old, so the image quality can vary greatly.)
"Click, Clack Moo Cows That Type" -- 7 minutes -- based on the book by Doreen Cronin, Illustrations by Betsy Lewin -- "Click, Clack, Moo" is a hilarious story which is set on Farmer Brown's farm. It seems that the cows have found an old typewriter and are leaving Farmer Brown notes in which they demand electric blankets because the barn is cold. When Farmer Brown refuses, the cows stop giving milk, and then go a step further by convincing the chickens to stop laying eggs. Not one to back down, Farmer Brown gets his own typewriter and begins writing his own notes, and a war of words ensues. The book version of "Click, Clack, Moo" is a great read, as it is clever, and contains some very well-placed jokes. (The one involving Duck is the best). But, the animated version, narrated by Randy Travis, doesn't work as well. The pacing is too slow, and Travis' deadpan drawl fails to emphasize the great lines in the story. Still, the animation is cute and certainly does justice to the book's illustrations, although, the animation shows some odd pixellating at times. The image shows a very subtle grain, but is very clear otherwise and the colors look great.
"The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash" -- 5 minutes -- based on the book by Trinka Hakes Noble -- Meg returns home from a field trip to the farm, and begins telling her mother about her day. Starting from the end, Meg works her way backwards, describing the chaos which the children caused on the farm, involving egg-throwing fights, angry pigs, and an escaped snake. This is a short and humorous story which shows some clever storytelling. The animation is very jerky, and appears to closely follow the original illustrations from the book. The image is quite grainy.
"The Pig's Wedding" -- 7 minutes -- based on the book by Helme Heine -- Porker and Curly-tail are getting married. But, when their piggy guests arrive, they are too dirty and need to be cleaned. Then, each pig has an outfit painted onto their bodies. As the ceremony commences, a storm ensues. Will this dampen the pig's fun? This is an odd, but interesting story. The image is grainy and shows some shimmering at times. Despite some strange art, the animation is pretty good.
This disc features two bonus stories.
"The Cow who Fell in the Canal" -- 8 minutes -- based on the book by Phyllis Krasilovsky -- Hendrika the cow is unhappy and bored, as all that she does is eat. She hears the horse tell of the wonderful sites of the nearby city and she is jealous. One day, Hendrika falls into the canal and rides a raft into the city, where she finally finds adventure. Simple, brief story, which offers some great visuals. The image displays good colors, but there are some noticeable defects from the source print.
"Charlie Needs a Cloak" -- 7 minutes -- based on the book by Tomie de Paola -- The usually preachy de Paola tones things down here, with this very simple story of a shepherd named Charlie, who decides to make a wool cloak. The story is essentially an overview of how wool goes from sheep to dying to yarn to cloth. The "naked" sheep serves as great comic relief. The image shows good colors, but there are visible vertical lines running throughout the segment.
The DVD also contains a Spanish version of "Click, Clack, Moo" entitled, "Clic, Clac, Muu Vacas Escritoras". A "read-along" is offered, but this is essentially the addition of English subtitles on each of the main selections. The subs are the same size as standards subs. They would need to be bigger to be effective as a "read-along".
This DVD certainly contains some good stories that children should enjoy, but the animated version of "Click, Clack, Moo" is still a letdown.