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January 27, 2011

2010 Wrap: DVDs

I'll get back to my final toys wrap-up post shortly, but I'm going to insert my video-of-the-year post first. It's not precisely the best movie or video we saw in 2010—that'd be Toy Story 3, predictably enough—but I figure few parents need me to tell them about movies they've probably seen already, and certainly have had ample chance to read reviews of. So other than to say we also liked How to Train Your Dragon quite a bit more than we expected to, I'll leave the big studio DVD releases alone.

Likewise, you know what TV shows your kids like best, and thus what TV-show collections you might want to own on DVD. (And these days, with DVRs and Netflix on-demand and 24-hour programming on Nick Jr. and the Disney Channel, who really needs DVDs of TV shows anyway?)

But there is one category of DVD that isn't as well advertised, or as much talked about, as Pixar movies and PBS Kids shows: the Scholastic Storybook Treasures DVDs. (For those unfamiliar, these are simply-animated versions of picture-book classics old and new, by everyone from Sendak to Willems.) I've sung the collection's praises before in this space—honestly, it's been our main video go-to for years now.

And our favorite of this year’s new releases in the series would have to be The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!, from Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith's typically clever twist on the original tale. (If you don't know the wonderful book, it's narrated by "Alexander T. Wolf," who attempts to explain how his devastation of the first two pigs' homes and his attacks on the lives of all three were all just a big misunderstanding.) In the animated version—the art, as always in these videos, taken directly from the original illustrations—Paul Giamatti has a great time doing the voice of the seemingly earnest wolf. Our family enjoyed it an awful lot ourselves; it's one of those DVDs where you find yourself sneaking into the room to watch with your kids even when you were supposed to be, I don't know, making dinner or something. Giamatti's performance is irresistible.

Also as usual with these DVDs, the lead story is packaged with a bunch from the Scholastic Storybook back catalog with loosely similar themes. (Wallace's Lists, adapted from a book I didn't know and narrated nicely by Zach Braff, has also been popular with the boys.)

[Image courtesy of Scholastic Storybook Treasures]


  1. do you know any cool Spanish-language videos for kids? I'm not thinking about Muzzy. What I'm looking for is something along the lines of "The Red Balloon" or "Princes and Princesses." But if you search Amazon for Spanish DVDs for kids, you get such a deluge of Toy Story in Spanish that I cannot find the movie.

    I'm looking for something that would appeal to my daughters and reinforce their Spanish as they watch a funny/touching cartoon: something they might choose to watch anyway, that is.

  2. Hmm. I don't offhand (I'm presuming that like Muzzy, Dora the Explorer is not what you're after), but I'll see if I can find anyone who does.

    I've heard good things about the film "Viva Cuba," but I've not seen it myself, and it does seem a bit heavier content-wise than the French examples you mention.

    Let me dig around my network of entertainment-savvy parents, and see if anyone knows of anything...