Grouping together four books from Scholastic authors, “Children Make Terrible Pets…and more stories about family” offers a varied collection animated shorts.
As the title suggests all four books are centered around family and the various forms that it can take.
This story by Peter Brown flips the traditional “Mom, Can I keep Him” notion on its head by reversing the roles. Instead of a child finding a stray animal he or she wants to keep as a pet, a young female bear cub finds a human boy in the forest that she wants to keep, but her mom tries to tell her “children make terrible pets”.
This is a weaving story of interconnected family and friends spread over the course of a day which goes from a little girl listening to a seashell at the beach, to a farm, to a grassy meadow with a big oak tree perfect for climbing, to a rainstorm, restaurant and bedtime.
Liz is a young girl whose estranged father returns after years away at war. She and her dad attempt to reconnect over an early morning hunting trip (her first) where Liz is put in charge of the crow call.
Elizabeti, a young Tanazian girl becomes a big sister. Seeing her mother care for he baby brother, Elizabeti imagines what it would be like to care for a child of her own.
Going into this review, we were not familiar with any of these books, but once again Scholastic offers up some rather nicely animated stories, coupled with enthusiastic professional narration and beautiful music which set the mood and bring the stories to life.
“Children Make Terrible Pets” was by far the girls’ favorite story in this collection, they giggled at the outlandish concept and were quoting parts of the story for the next couple of days after watching it. They also enjoyed all the sights and sounds and constantly changing locations of “All The World“. This book’s soothing story and soft music would make an ideal one to put on just before bed.
The final two stories “Crow Call” and “Elizabeti’s Doll” didn’t fare as well with my little ones. I think the books were just a little too old for them, especially “Crow Call“. My older one liked when Liz used the crow call, but (us not being hunters or the girls ever having been exposed to even the idea of hunting) it seemed like the story confused them a bit. Despite both my girls love of playing with dolls, for some reason “Elizabeti’s Doll” just didn’t click with them either, not sure why.
All of the animated shorts feature Scholastic’s optional ‘Read-Along’ feature which displays highlighting text on the screen, allowing your child to read along with the book as the words are spoken.
For bonus features there are three interview featurettes with author Peter Brown (Children Make Terrible Pets), illustrator Marla Frazee (All the World) and author Lois Lowry (Crow Calls). I personally thought the interviews with Peter Brown and Lois Lowry were both pretty interesting, but the girls weren’t interested in watching any of these.
What’s Included on the DVD:
- “Children Make Terrible Pets”
- “All the World”
- “Crow Call”
- “Elizabeth’s Doll”
- Video: 1.33:1
- Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0
- Subtitles: (Read-Along Feature)
- Interview with Children Make Terrible Pets Author/Illustrator Peter Brown
- Interview with All the World Illustrator Marla Frazee
- Interview with Crow Call Author Lois Lowry
- Read-Along highlighting caption track
- Scholastic Storybook Treasures Trailer
Aside from Children Make Terrible Pets, the stories in this collection felt a bit more dramatic and “life-lesson” in nature compared to Scholastic’s Mo Willems Storybook Treasures collection which my daughters really loved. This DVD is recommend for children ages 4 to 12, but several of the stories seemed a little too lofty for my (almost) 4 and 6 year-old daughters to fully understand and it didn’t keep their attention as well. I think this would be more appealing to children at the older end of the “recommended spectrum”. These are well-written and beautiful stories, they just couldn’t satisfy my girls like a little Mo Willems silliness.