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Product Type: Video
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 


2004 Award
Holes
(Disney $22.98 Score:) Stanley Yelnats is sure his family's long-standing "curse" is responsible for landing him in the boys' detention center, Camp Green Lake. Louis Sachar's best-selling novel was, according to our movie goers, faithful (a big consideration, they said) and just as they imagined it. The lizards and some fighting at the camp provide for some frightful moments for younger viewers, who also had some trouble following the plot which weaves back and forth in time. Most enjoyed by 10 & up crowd.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Horatio's Drive
(PBS HOME Video $19.98 Score:) In 1903, Horatio Nelson Jackson took off on a daring adventure. His dream was to be the first to cross the United States in an automobile. Soon after he leaves, two more cars leave the west coast in an attempt to beat him. Masterfully woven with amazing photographs, newspaper accounts, and letters to his wife (read by Tom Hanks), Ken Burns once again gives viewers a front row seat to a little-known event, yet one that blazed the trail for the horseless carriage. Though it unwinds slowly, this builds quickly into a suspenseful and inspiring story.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Mysterious Life of Caves
(WGBH $19.95 Score:) Take an armchair trip into the depths of caves where scientists are exploring yet another frontier. Travel into the Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico's Lechuguilla, and Cueva de Villa Luz in Mexico. Notably, for 'tweens and teens, there is another implicit lesson worth noting; most of the scientists on the screen and in the caves happen to be women. Like their counterparts in outer space, these explorers represent intriguing models that both girls and boys may consider for careers. 60 mins. 10 & up. (800) 949-8670.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Santa Clause 2
(Disney $22.99 Score:) Tim Allen is back as Santa Claus. While he now has fully embraced the joy of being Santa, he is presented with a new dilemma. He must find a Mrs. Claus or give up the red suit gig. Our viewers enjoyed Allen's romp through dating before finding his true love. 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2005 Award
Make Way for Ducklings
(Scholastic $9.95 Score:) Parents and even grandparents have grown up with Robert McCloskey's three beloved Caldecott Award winners on this video. "Make Way for Ducklings" tells the jolly tale of Mr. & Mrs. Mallard, who find a home for their ducklings Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack. McCloskey's drawings have not been animated, but they retain superb vitality as the camera pans and zooms in on his jaunty ducklings and their world. There's delicious suspense in "Blueberries for Sal," and summer in Maine is beautifully encapsulated in "Time of Wonder." You'll find two more favorites, "Lentil" and "Burt Dow," plus a Spanish version of "Ducklings" and read-along features that make the DVD version worth the higher price. 48.

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

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2005 Award
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
(WGBH $19.95 Score:) Based on James Hilton's novel, this video features Martin Clunes playing the endearing Latin master at an English boarding school. His inept style is transformed by the woman he loves (Victoria Hamilton) and tragically loses. A glimpse into the past and a life that will seem very foreign to young viewers. Also recommended, last year's PLATINUM winner, The Railway Children (). 8 & up. (800) 949-8670.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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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
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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