ToyDirectory
December 12, 2017

TDmonthly Magazine

March 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 3


TDmonthly's Multimedia Expert

CDs? DVDs? She Plays Them All

By Holly Willis
March 2007

TDmonthly Magazine’s Multimedia Expert has devoted her career to watching and listening to imaginative creations in a variety of media. Here she shares her opinions on multimedia products for kids, rating each one with 1 to 5 TD (for TDmonthly!) stars; 5 is the top mark.

Asian Dreamland by PUTUMAYO WORLD MUSIC
Category: Audio & Cassette & CD
Gender: Boys And Girls
Age: Infants and Up
Price: $14.95

TDmonthly rating:


First Impressions
“Asian Dreamland” celebrates the gentle rhythms and unusual instruments of Asia with 10 very different songs chosen for their ability to soothe babies and young children to sleep.

Reviewer’s Perspective
Unlike most children’s music, which irritates adults, “Asian Dreamland” is devoted to young listeners, but also appeals to older ears. It’s culturally singular, offering music you simply can’t find anywhere else, and features playful cover art and extensive liner notes. Highlights include Lei Qiang’s “Lullaby,” featuring the music of an erhu, an ancient Chinese stringed instrument, and Chukie Tethong’s chant, “Om Ma Nye Bhe Mai Hum,” sung with the Tibetan folk singer’s gentle, lilting voice.

Kids’ Perspective
My 20-month daughter enjoyed the CD as background music during quiet playtime, especially in the evening, when it helped make the transition toward bedtime. Older children will enjoy the information in the liner notes as parents point out the unusual sounds of the exotic instruments, thereby helping to build discerning listeners.

Recommendation
Putumayo releases are generally excellent, and the company’s reputation continues here. The music soothes, the information educates, and the overall experience helps build a sense of cultural knowledge and understanding. You can’t ask for much more!

All Together Now by LITTLE MONSTER RECORDS
Category: Audio & Cassette & CD
Gender: Boys and Girls
Age: 2 to 6
Price: $13.99

TDmonthly rating:


First Impressions
The first release from the new label Little Monster Records, “All Together Now” presents 11 Beatles songs. Artists include the Children’s Choir, who do great work on “Yellow Submarine” and “Birthday,” as well as the Bangles, Rachel Yamagata and Jason Lytle of the band Granddaddy, bringing new voices and rhythms to well-known favorites.

Reviewer’s Perspective
There’s a lot of talk lately about hip music releases for kids, and “All Together Now” is an excellent example of this trend. The CD stands out not only in presenting the Beatles to a new audience, but also in being cross-generational, offering an opportunity for parents to talk to kids about music history, bands of the past, and current musical trends.

Kids’ Perspective

Younger kids will quickly pick out key phrases to sing, and slightly older kids will enjoy the often silly lyrics that have made the Beatles favorites for decades.

Recommendation
This is a terrific collection of great songs that the entire family can enjoy singing together.

The Adventures of the Little Prince: The Magic Case by KOCH ENTERTAINMENT
Category: Videos & DVDs
Gender: Boys and Girls
Ages: 6 to 10
Price: $9.98

TDmonthly rating:


First Impressions
Originally produced in Japan in the 1970s and introduced to American viewers in the 1980s, the animated series “The Adventures of the Little Prince” borrows the sage wide-eyed boy from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s 1943 classic book “The Little Prince.” “The Magic Case” features three episodes, in which the prince hitches rides on comets to visit Lapland, New England and Italy, learning about new cultures and helping others understand right and wrong.

Reviewer’s Perspective
Made well before computer animation, “The Adventures of the Little Prince” features unique animation. There are enough unusual moments ― colorful psychedelic space-travel sequences, for example ― to offset the more cloying aspects of storytelling. With its gentle pace and anime-inspired visual style, this series stands out relative to much contemporary animation, which tends to be fast, loud and spectacular.

Kids’ Perspective

Kids aged 6 to 10 will enjoy the series and its fanciful travel stories, which invariably include a very clear moment of instruction (as when the Little Prince extols the merits of creative imagination in “The Magic Case” episode).

Recommendation
The lessons in the “Adventures of the Little Prince” series offer opportunities for discussion as kids ponder ideas about responsibility, tradition and creativity.

Me, Eloise by STARZ MEDIA
Category: Videos & DVDs
Gender: Girls
Age: 4 to 8
Price: $14.98

TDmonthly rating:


First Impressions
The notorious 6-year-old made famous in the 1950s by Kay Thompson’s stories and Hilary Knight’s artwork comes to life in this animated 45-minute adventure. The energetic and articulate Eloise tries to organize a birthday party in The Plaza, the hotel where she resides with her Nanny while her mother traipses around Europe. The story follows Eloise’s attempts to teach 8-year-old violin prodigy Yuko about what goes on behind the scenes at the hotel.

Reviewer’s Perspective

Stylistically similar to the signature line drawings that made Eloise unique in book form, “Me, Eloise” is a visual treat. The project features the arch British voice of Lynn Redgrave as Eloise’s wise Nanny and Tim Curry as the hotel’s manager, adding to its higher-than-usual production value.

Kids’ Perspective
Six-year-old girls will enjoy her antics and the fantasy of living independently ― almost ― while learning a little about the needs and feelings of others.

Recommendation
Kids who enjoy the Eloise books will be delighted by her new incarnation, and those meeting her for the first time will relish the story and unusual visual style. Eloise’s prodigious vocabulary is an asset, and the DVD extras ― including a birthday-invitation maker and a DVD hide-and-seek game ― give the project even more for kids to enjoy.

Travel With Kids Hawaii: The Big Island by EQUATOR CREATIVE MEDIA
Category: Videos & DVDs
Gender: Boys and Girls
Ages: 6 to 10
Price: $14.95

TDmonthly rating:


First Impressions
“Let’s face it, traveling with your kids isn’t always easy,” announces the narrator in this visual travelogue charting the activities of a family of four as they journey across Hawaii’s Big Island. The family discovers the island’s unique land formations, ceremonies and traditions while juggling naps, temper tantrums and the needs of two young boys.

Reviewer’s Perspective
Somewhere between an expert home movie and a travel guide enhanced with sound and moving images, this travelogue’s main asset is its attention to what kids might enjoy seeing and doing in Hawaii, including making leis and stenciled t-shirts. DVD extras include instructions on making leis and volcanoes at home, what to pack and how to plan a great trip.

Kids’ Perspective
Kids aged 6 to 10 anticipating a visit to Hawaii may enjoy getting a sense of what’s in store for them there, and parents will benefit from the insider’s info. Younger kids may tune out pretty quickly, finding informative facts less than thrilling.

Recommendation
For parents planning a trip to the Big Island, “Travel With Kids” will help do away with many of the unknowns that are part of any journey to a new place, guiding them toward a smart, enlightening experience that’s attentive to kids’ needs.

Jim Cosgrove: Mr. Stinky Feet’s Road Trip Live by WARNER BROS TOYS
Category: Videos & DVDs
Age: 3 to 7
Gender: Boys and Girls
Price: $12.99

TDmonthly rating:


First Impressions
Dressed in bright Hawaiian shirts, Jim Cosgrove (a.k.a. Mr. Stinky Feet) and his band The Hiccups perform seven kid-friendly songs, such as “Put Down the Binky” (you can’t sing with a pacifier) and “Gobble ’Cross the U.S.A.” (about towns that sound good to eat) while a young audience sings and dances along.

Reviewer’s Perspective
Cosgrove’s songs are surprisingly catchy, but the video of the band performing is not riveting, and the music alone may suffice after a first viewing. That said, concert videos usually appeal most to those who already love the performer, and the same holds true here; if kids like Mr. Stinky Feet, they’ll enjoy seeing him in action.

Kids’ Perspective
Kids between the ages of 3 and 7 should enjoy seeing other kids clapping, dancing and joining the band on-stage.

Recommendation

If you have Mr. Stinky Feet fans as part of your customer base, this DVD will have eager viewers; otherwise, the music alone is what counts.

Fins and Grins: Johnette Downing by WIGGLE WORM RECORDS
Category: Audio & Cassette & CD
Gender: Boys and Girls
Age: 3 to 9
Price: $15.99

TDmonthly rating:


First Impressions
Last year, Louisiana-born Johnette Downing was nominated for a Grammy for best musical album for children, and her latest CD of 16 sea-based songs may just earn her another nod thanks to a jazzy, upbeat collection that’s at once educational and eminently singable.

Reviewer’s Perspective
The goofy cover art for “Fins and Grins” doesn’t do justice to Downing’s talent, but don’t be put off by it. The songs here ― among them, an ABC list about the Amazon, an ode to amphibians, and a Cajun ditty about a crayfish ― are terrific, with Downing’s mellow voice mixing nicely with guitars, mandolins and assorted brass instruments. This music is funny, polished and performed well.

Kids’ Perspective
My 20-month-old enjoyed clapping along with “Clamshell Clap” and doing the sailor salute with “A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea.” In just a few minutes, she was catching on to the “Amazon ABCs.” Downing includes a lot of echoing lines, making sing-alongs easy, even for young kids.

Recommendation

“Fins and Grins” offers an eclectic mix of musical styles, with jazz, folk and Cajun-inflected songs. This, along with Downing’s obvious respect for kids, makes this CD a winner.





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