The Scholastic Storybook Treasures series certainly has a wide and eclectic variety of topics. Just when I thought I'd seen almost everything, here comes "The Red Hen." The unifying topic that ties the four short stories together on this DVD is cooking. So if you have any aspiring gourmet chefs in your brood, this is a nice introduction to foodie culture. The four stories presented on this disc are all enhanced with the "read along" function to promote reading aptitude. If this is your first experience with the Storybook Treasures line, that basically means that the words are put on the screen as the narrator is telling the story. It's a great way to get the kids more actively involved, especially as the recommended age group of 3-7 are at the sponge stage of intellectual training!
The disc has four tales as I've mentioned and runs just shy of an hour. A big surprise on this set is the presence of star power in two of the narrated stories. Lily Tomlin and Michael McKean present two of the tales, and I was not expecting a celebrity presence. The only Bonus Feature is a cake recipe that you might want to try out with your little bakers.
Here are the four included stories which promote themes such as Problem Solving, Cooperation and Friendship:
1) The Red Hen: Speaking of aspiring bakers, the hen in this piece has quite a passion for it. Rather charming.
2) Bread Comes To Life: This is the Tomlin narration, and my personal favorite in the set. With its limited focus, it really does teach you about the process of making bread which I think the little ones will love.
3) How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food?: As you might imagine, dinosaurs don't have the best manners! This is good for the smaller viewers as it models appropriate behavior.
4) Arnie The Doughnut: As our hero is about to be eaten (he is a doughnut), he quickly serves up some life lessons to avoid this fate. Gruesome, when you think about it, but amusing in McKean's narration.
I really liked the specificity of this set as lots of kids have a genuine interest in helping out in the kitchen. Also, sometimes I fear we're losing an interest in storytelling, tradition, and even reading. For emphasizing just these elements in releases such as this, I will continue to be a strong supporter of the Scholastic Storybook Treasures series. KGHarris, 2/13.