Spring is around the corner but in the meantime find family pleasure with the indoor fun provided by this month's video selections for all ages. The preschool to first-grade crowd can get down and get funky with the music of Mr. Stinky Feet. The Snow Queen will give the shivers to tweens and parents and the naughty story of Noisy Nora and other tales of mischief round out the fun.
THE SNOW QUEEN, not rated, $14.98 DVD; ages 10-14.
If you missed the theatrical stage version of this story, you are in luck. This is an epic tale older kids will love, although it has some frightening scenes that make it less suitable for younger and more sensitive viewers. I could not take my eyes off this production, which is a mix of live action in a strange green screen style used in many music videos, Monty Python-type drawings and more visual surprises. Based on the Hans Christian Anderson story, this is the tale of a boy enchanted by an evil snow queen and his friend who sets out to save him. The hero here is the young girl who saves the day. On the way, she has an adventure not unlike "The Neverending Story." At one point in the fantastic plot, she is saved from a witch by talking flowers and is helped in her adventures by a crow, voiced by actor Patrick Stewart, and a reindeer.
Sylvia says: A. A heroic epic for tweens, if a little scary for younger viewers.
MR. STINKY FEET'S ROAD TRIP LIVE, not rated, $12.98 DVD; ages 2-6.
With his Hawaiian shirt, khaki shorts and laidback style, I can see why Jim Cosgrove has been called Jimmy Buffet for kids. His musical style is the main thing that makes the production work, but the reactions of the kids at the show are just as important. Cosgrove, alias Mr. Stinky Feet, and his backup band The Hiccups get kids up and dancing. Like a hip-hop artist, he urges listeners to wave their hands in the air or to use them as "gobblers" in another song about silly food-themed town names. My daughter says it is "bogus" that "Put Down the Binky" is suspiciously similar to the Sesame Street song "Put Down the Ducky" (college students are so picky), but the little ones in the audience don't seem to mind.
Sylvia says: A for interactive fun that gets kids off the couch and makes any room a dance floor. Just right for its intended audience.
NOISY NORA ... AND MORE TALES ABOUT MISCHIEF, not rated, $14.95 DVD; ages 3-6.
Regular readers may know that I tend to like the pacing and the literary quality of videos from the Scholastic series, and Noisy Nora is no exception. Nora feels neglected by her family and tries to get attention by being naughty and noisy. The story is based on a book by Rosemary Wells, so you might recognize the charmingly chubby figures and simple yet colorful style. This was the first picture book by the author of the Max and Ruby stories, and she has a real flair for siblings. Nora is a character that every child can relate to. Other naughty characters featured in the stories on this DVD include Googles, in a short by Ezra Jack Keats, and Munro, in a story by Jules Feiffer.
NOTE: This DVD will not be released until March 27.
Sylvia says: B. Noisy Nora was originally written in 1973, when we may have been less concerned with this kind of thing, but I don't like the way Nora's big sister calls her dumb, even if it is in passing. Still, Nora's exploits are worth a look.
Sylvia M. Ewing is a mother of two, an award winning producer and long time on air talent for WTTW living on Chicago's North Side.