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Product Type: Videos

 

Parents Are From Pluto
(Sony $12.98 Score:) Three new Arthur stories address school-aged kids' sometimes mixed emotions about their parents. The title story centers on wanting parents to make a good impression at "Parents' Open House," something older kids are more apt to worry over than kids in early grades; in "My Dad, the Garbage Man," Francine is not sure she wants classmates to know what her father does. This is well done and good food for talking. "Mom and Dad Have a Big Fight" talks to the big idea that grown-ups sometimes argue and kids often fear their family will fall apart. It's an important idea, but the video slips from real to imaginary situations so glibly that parents may need to help kids sort out the real from make believe in both video and life. Arthur's Eyes, reissued in DVD format, includes several themes that are meaningful to school-age kids. Poor Arthur can't see the chalkboard and he must come to terms with wearing glasses. "Francine's Bad Hair Day" centers on wanting to look like someone else instead of oneself. "Draw" is an extra story that was not on the original video. Here Francine calls Fern a "mouse" and discovers that name-calling can backfire. These stories stay truer to the original storybooks. 58.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: .

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2005 Award
Strega Nona & More
(Scholastic $9.95 Score:) A collection of Caldecott award winners includes Tomie dePaola's best loved witch, Strega Nona, and her foolish helper Big Anthony, who is warned not to touch the magic cooking pot. Also, Simms Taback's "Joseph Had a Little Overcoat," the tale of a worn-out overcoat that proves through its many incarnations that "you can always make something from nothing." Similarly, Marcia Brown's "Stone Soup" is an old tale of three clever soldiers who manage to make soup from a stone. The DVD version also includes "The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks," plus Spanish versions of "Stone Soup" and "Strega Nona," and read-along text. This does not look like a Saturday morning animated feature, but is true to the spirit and art of the award-winning books. Also reissued this year, Curious George Rides a Bike & More Tales of Mischief ($9.95/$14.95) 38.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Brother Bear
(Disney $29.99 Score:) Kenai, trying to avenge the death of his brother, kills the grizzly bear he believes responsible for his brother's death. The spirits then turn Kenai into a bear. Kenai is rescued and befriended by an orphaned bear cub named Koda. Can you guess who killed his mother? In the end, Kenai chooses to remain a bear to be with Koda. Classic Disney. Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas add comic relief as two wandering moose. 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Cheaper By the Dozen
(Fox Interactive $29.98 Score:) Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt star in the latest remake of the classic book about a family with 12 kids. In one of the best casting moves, the older siblings are played by Hilary Duff and Tom Welling ("Superman"); and Asthon Kutcher aptly plays the oldest sister's easy-to-despise boyfriend. Martin's performance is funny but tempered, and with the collection of teen stars, this is a movie that will appeal to a wide range of family members. 7 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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Ella Enchanted
(Mirmax / Buena Vista $26.99 Score:) Ella (Anne Hathaway) is cursed at birth to be obedient. Hathaway is known and beloved by girls and 'tweens from "The Princess Diaries." Unfortunately, Ella was not enchanted with a great screenplay. The movie drags and there just isn't the spark you would expect from what should have been a clever romp. Our group of 11-year-old viewers thought it was cute enough, but thought it would be best enjoyed by the "79 crowd."

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: .

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2005 Award
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
(Warner Bros. $26.99 Score:) We had a very strong division of opinion about the third Potter movie. While most adults enjoyed director Alfonso Cuaron's liberties with J. K. Rowling's book, our kid viewers didn't think it was right! Even with that criticism, they gave the movie high marks for being entertaining and we can't wait for the next one! As Harry gets older, the movies get darker and are not appropriate for younger viewers. The dementors and the werewolf scene are particularly intense and make the Wicked Witch of West look like Mary Poppins! 9 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
The Miracle
(Disney $22.99 Score:) In the tradition of "The Rookie" and "Remember the Titans," this is the latest feel-good sports movie from Disney. While most of the current family movies revolve around teenage starlets, "Miracle" is one of the few films that will keep your sons engaged. It's also fun to revisit a moment most parents remember vividly. Kurt Russell stars as Coach Herb Brooks, who dared to believe that the amateur US team could win the Gold Medal in Hockey. 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Shrek 2
(Dreamworks $22.99 Score:) Can you live happily ever after? Shrek and Princess Fiona put the famous fairy tale ending to a test when they go home to meet Fiona's parents, played by Julie Andrews and John Cleese. The anxiety-ridden premise of meeting your in-laws appealed to the grown-ups in the audience. Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots got high marks from both young and older viewers. An engaging sequel that will be playing in living rooms, over and over again. 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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Two Brothers
(Disney $22.99 Score:) Two brother tigers from French Indo-China are separated; one goes to the circus, the other becomes a trained killer. They are inevitably reunited, but what will happen next? Oh no, lions and tigers and bears... Oh my! Younger viewers found all the shooting frightening; older viewers thought it was boring.

Age: . Award Year: .

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2005 Award
Elmos World: Families, Mail & Bath Time!
(SonyWonder $9.98 Score:) Elmo, Mr. Noodle, and the rest of his gang give information about how different families can look, how to mail a letter, and how to take a bath. High marks for inclusion of multicultural families and children with special needs. We question why the mailbox needed to fly for "air mail" delivery. As cloying as Mr. Noodle may be to adult viewers, he has big-time appeal with kids. Also recommended, last year's Wake Up With Elmo with tips on sleep, getting dressed, and taking care of their teeth. Live-action film of a first visit to the dentist is especially useful. 2 & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2005.

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