PBS Kids’ New ‘WordWorld’ DVD Is A Great Set Any Time Of Year

Courtesy:  Public Media Distribution/PBS/PBS Kids

Courtesy: Public Media Distribution/PBS/PBS Kids

School is officially out for summer.  Even with families taking their vacations, children’s education should not take a vacation, too.  Enter PBS Kids and its vast array of DVDs being released throughout the summer.  One of those DVDs, WordWorld: It’s Time For School, is one of those new DVDs.  The fittingly titled compilation will be released Tuesday, July 26th, just in time to start getting kids young viewers a head start on the new school year.  The DVD features eight more episodes from the family friendly vocabulary-building series.  The episodes are in themselves a key element to this compilation.  That will be discussed shortly.  The lessons that are presented within each of the episodes are just as important in their own right to the collection.  That will be discussed later.  The bonus material included with the collection rounds out the collections most important elements.  It is the set’s finishing touch.  Together with the collection’s featured episodes and the lessons contained therein the whole of the collection proves to be yet another collection that will be welcome in any family’s home.

WordWorld: It’s Time For School is yet another collection of WordWorld episodes that will be welcome in any family’s home.  That is due in part to the episodes that make up the body of the collection.  The collection is made up of eight from episodes from the series.  Audiences will note that the episodes are lifted from all three of the series’ seasons.  What’s more at least a pair of the featured episodes—“The Best Nest” and “Tick Tock Space Clock”—has in fact been previously released in another WordWorld DVD released a few years ago by NCircle Entertainment.  The others may or may not have been previously released when NCircle had distribution rights for the series.  Regardless the very fact that once again PBS Kids has included eight episodes (versus four put into each collection from NCircle) is in itself impressive.  What’s more not everybody out there has all of the WordWorld DVDs previously released by Ncircle Entertainment.  To that end, the episodes may in fact be new to many audiences.  Keeping that in mind the episodes presented in this collection show in their own way to be a collectively important part of the collection.  They are not the collection’s only important element.  The lessons that are incorporated into the episodes are just as important to the collection’s presentation as the episodes themselves.

The episodes that make up the body of PBS Kids’ new WordWorld DVD are in themselves a collectively important part of the collection’s presentation.  Previously released or not, the episodes are important because not every viewer has seen these episodes before.  Keeping that in mind, they remain a collectively important part of the DVDs overall presentation.  They are not the set’s only key element.  The lessons that are incorporated into the episodes are just as important to the DVD’s presentation as its episodes.  That is because the episodes feature more than just the standard vocabulary building lessons.  The DVD’s lead episode “Sharks First Day Of School” is one of the episodes that presents multiple lessons within its own body.  On the surface, the standard vocabulary building lessons are there.  Along with those lessons is the lesson about overcoming that all too common fear of the first day.  Not every child goes through this situation even on the first day of school.  But more do than don’t.  The writers address the situation by having Duck, Cat, and the others at school show Shark that school is a good place to be.  They are completely supportive of Shark along the way, showing him all the good things that school has to offer.  For those parents that are getting ready to send their children off to kindergarten, this is a great way to help their children overcome those potential first day jitters.  On another level, an episode such as “Welcome Home, Duck” teaches an important lesson about friendship alongside its vocabulary lesson.  It does so by Frog showing his excitement at Duck coming back from vacation.  Frog wants to show how much he missed Duck and appreciates him as a friend.  That message of friendship is just as important as the lesson centering on overcoming first day jitters.  It is not the only other lesson presented in these episodes, either.  Some might call it a stretch but in “Duck at Bat” it could be argued that the writers incorporated the lesson of perseverance.  No matter how many times Duck kept making the wrong word and using the wrong items as a bat, he kept trying.  He did finally get the right letter to make a bat.  And he even got a hit when he went up to the plate.  To that end, one could argue that the writers were teaching the lesson to the show’s young viewers that they should not give up on anything, especially not on anything worth doing.  There’s even a lighter lesson about teamwork incorporated into the episode for good measure.  Between these lessons and the episodes’ vocabulary building lessons it is obvious that there is plenty to be learned in these episodes.  All things considered the lessons that are incorporated into the episodes in this set prove in the long to be just as important to this DVD’s presentation as the episodes themselves.  They still are not its only important elements.  The bonus material included with the DVD rounds out the set’s most important elements.

The episodes that make up the body of PBS Kids’ new WordWorld DVD and the lessons contained within each are all important elements in the DVD’s overall presentation.  Each does its own part in making this new DVD another enjoyable presentation from PBS Kids.  They are not the DVD’s only important elements.  The bonus material that is included in the DVD is just as important to the collection’s presentation as its episodes and their lessons.  Just as with PBS Kids’ previous WordWorld compilations this set includes a trio of vocabulary building activities that the whole family can do together and that even teachers can do with their students in class.  One involves matching words on index cards to make compound words.  Another involves matching rhyming words with their related pictures.  Another is a game of hide-and-seek of sorts.  Except in the case of this game, there is no chasing around.  Rather in the case of this game, children have to identify the sound that they hear and where it comes from in order to get a turn.  As an additional bonus, PBS Kids has also included in this DVD’s case an activity booklet for children.  This is something with which PBS Kids has only experimented in its previous WordWorld DVDs (and other series’ DVDs).  So to see it full blown like this for the first time is impressive.  The activity booklet includes coloring pages, word searches, maze games, matching games and even a kid friendly crossword.  Parents can take the coloring pages, copy them and save them to their computers before their children color them in the book.  That way they [parents] can print them out any time they want for children to color.  Teachers can do the same with any of the other activities so as to use them each year with each new class.  Keeping all of this in mind, the activities and complimenting activity booklet included in this DVD are true bonuses.  They are activities that serve to drive home the lessons presented in the disc’s episodes.  They also serve to entertain young children.  They are in essence a fitting final touch for the DVD’s presentation.  Together with the disc’s episodes and their lessons, all of the noted elements join to make WordWorld: It’s Time For School a disc that is great for families any time of the year.

WordWorld: It’s Time For School is a great watch for the whole family any time of the year.  Whether ahead of the new school year or even during, this DVD proves itself to be another impressive collection of WordWorld episodes.  That is evident in the episodes that make up the body of the DVD.  The lessons that are tied into each of the episodes play their own part in proving this.  The bonus material that is included in the DVD’s case rounds out its most important elements.  In regards to that material not only has PBS Kids outshined NCircle in regards to its handling of the series’ DVDs, it has outdone itself this time around, too.  Considering this, the bonus material included in this collection is a fitting final touch to the DVD’s presentation.  It joins with the DVD’s featured episodes and their lessons to make this DVD, again, another welcome collection of episodes from PBS Kids’ beloved family friendly vocabulary building series.  It will be available later this month both in stores and online and can be pre-ordered online now via PBS’ online store.  More episodes of WordWorld are available online now along with more WordWorld games, activities, and much more at:




Website: http://www.wordworld.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WordWorld




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WordWorld: Halloween Fun Spells F-U-N For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Kids/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids/PBS Distribution

Next week is the last full week of September. At first glance that might not mean much to most people. On another level, though it means that in only a matter of days, the countdown to the unofficial start of the annual holiday season will really begin. What that means is that many people will start making decisions on their costumes for this year’s festivities very soon. They will also start making plans for the festivities themselves. There are plenty of events for grown-ups out there and just as many for younger revelers, too. However for some, they would prefer to enjoy the big night at home. That means even more planning especially for those planning parties for the younger revelers in question. Thankfully PBS Kids has made things at least a little easier for those individuals with the release of the new WordWorld DVD Halloween Fun. Only the second Halloween-themed collection of WordWorld episodes to be released to date it is a good fit both for those home-based children’s Halloween parties. The main reason for that is the list of episodes featured in this collection. That will be discussed at more length shortly. It is only part of what makes this new release so enjoyable. The work of the show’s writers is also to be commended as part of the collection’s overall enjoyment. Not only are young viewers taught wonderful vocab building skills through each episode thanks to the writing but they are also taught at least one or two extra lessons not directly linked to their language skills, too. That will be discussed more thoroughly later. Last but hardly least of all worth noting of the DVD is its collection of bonus lesson ideas included inside the DVD’s case. That, too will be discussed at more length later. It is, along with the previously noted elements, one more part of a whole that makes for a great addition to any family’s Halloween party this year and any year.

PBS Kids’ latest DVD offering from its hit series WordWorld is a great addition to any family’s Halloween party this year and any year. The DVD, Halloween Fun is so enjoyable primarily due to the list of episodes featured in the new release. Two of the episodes—“A Kooky Spooky Halloween” and “Sheep’s Halloween Costume”—were both lifted from NCircle Entertainment’s previously released WordWorld DVD A Kooky Spooky Halloween. That DVD featured only the two noted episodes. PBS Kids and PBS Distribution saw NCircle Entertainment’s offering and raised it with three additional episodes for this DVD. Those episodes are “Dog’s Camping Adventure,” “One Hat Fits All,” and “Nightlight.” Now while those three extra episodes are not necessarily Halloween-themed episodes in the most direct sense that doesn’t take anything away from them. The very fact that their subject matter can at least be loosely connected to the disc’s two main episodes is enough reason to have them added to the overall presentation. Speaking of the content of those episodes, the content of all five episodes, or rather the writing behind each episode, is another reason that viewers of all ages will enjoy this collection.

The episodes that make up the body of WordWorld: Halloween Fun give viewers of all ages plenty of reason to add the DVD to their personal collections. That is because they each present similar underlying connections. This includes the episodes whose stories are not necessarily directly related to Halloween. On a directly related note, the writing behind each of the disc’s episodes is just as important to the whole of the presentation as the episodes themselves. The writing behind the disc’s primary episodes, “A Kooky Spooky Halloween” and “Sheep’s Halloween Costume” is a prime example of the importance of the episodes’ writing. In the first of the episodes audiences get a fun, family friendly story that sees Pig inadvertantly scaring his friends when he ends up sleepwalking around WordWorld, covered by a sheet. Of course the sheet covers him wholly by accident. But because this all takes place at night, Pig’s friends don’t realize it is him. That is they don’t realize it is him at first. Of course everything turns out alright in the end. but the execution of the story will have viewers of all ages laughing and smiling from beginning to end. “Sheep’s Halloween Costume” is an especially important example of how the writing succeeds in these episodes as it actually presents not just its central story but an important secondary lesson about individualism and being creative at the same time. Sure those are big concepts especially for the show’s generally younger viewers. But the writers do a good job of translating that lesson on a level that the audiences in question can easily grasp. “Nightlight” is another good example of the importance of the episodes’ writing because it, too does more than just presenta a fun story. It actually uses the story to teach young viewers its own important lesson. The lesson in question here is that there is no reason for said viewers to be afraid of the dark. Every parent will agree that getting children past their fear of the dark is an important part of any child’s development. So that lesson about not fearing the dark becomes an especially important part of the writing behind “Nightlight.” “Dog’s Camping Trip” presents a similar lesson when Dog, Pig, and Frog go on a camping trip together. It’s just one more example of the importance of the writing behind the episodes featured in PBS Kids’ new WordWorld DVD. That is not to ignore “One Hat Fits All” either. The set’s final episode, it presents its own enjoyment as Sheep’s hat flies around WordWorld and becomes something different for each of her friends. The lesson taught here is just as deep as those presented in the set’s other episodes and in turn shows even more why the writing behind each of the disc’s episodes is just as important as the episodes themselves.

The episodes that make up the body of WordWorld: Halloween Fun and the writing behind each episode are both equally important in their own right to the overall enjoyment and success of WordWorld: Halloween Fun. While both elements are of the utmost importance to the set’s overall presentation, they are hardly all that viewers will appreciate about this disc. The bonus “lesson plans” included inside the DVD’s case round out the reasons for the DVD’s enjoyment. There are only two “lesson plans.” But both are still equally great additions to the DVD’s overall presentation. The first of the lessons ties in to “A Spooky Kooky Halloween.” It encourages parents and educators to have children search for words that begin with a specific letter just like Pig did in his search for more B’s to make more bags to collect candy. It is a great way to develop vocab skills whether during the days leading to Halloween or any other time of the year. That is because not only does it help teach words but aso drives home the letters of the alphabet. The second of the featured bonus “lessons” is just as important as the first. That is because helps children develop certain skills as they build their own candy bags with the letters B, A, and G. On another level, it serves as yet another starting point for parents and educators to interact with children and build those all-important bonds with the children in question. That time spent (especially with parents) and encouragement to build said skills is perhaps more important than anything else. That is because it brings everything full circle and can help build children’s interest in the lessons taught through each of the set’s episodes. That being the case, this “lesson” and its fellow bonus “lesson” work together with all of the DVD’s previously noted elements to make a presentation that will be fun for the whole family not just on Halloween but during any time of the year.

WordWorld: Halloween Fun is not the first Halloween-themed DVD to be released from PBS Kids’ hit vocabulary building series. It is also hardly the first holiday-themed collection to be put to DVD, too. Despite this, it does a number of things right, improving quite a bit on NCircle Entertainment’s previously released WordWorld DVD “A Kooky Spooky Halloween.” It adds in three more episodes that while not necessarily Halloween-themed, are still fitting additions to the DVD in their own right. It also presents five stories that not only entertain but educate and help young viewers to grow developmentally and emotionally. This is done both through the DVD’s main episodes and through the bonus “lesson plans” featured inside the DVD’s case. Each element in itself proves a valuable singular part of the DVD’s whole. Collectively, all three elements present the DVD to be yet another great release from PBS Kids and PBS Distribution, and one that audiences of all ages will enjoy not just on Halloween but any time of the year. WordWorld: Halloween Fun is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=66322796&cp=&kw=wordworld+halloween+fun&origkw=WORDWORLD+HALLOWEEN+FUN&sr=1. More information on this and other WordWorld DVDs is available online now along with lots of WordWorld games and news at:

Website: http://www.wordworld.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WordWorld

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The World’s End Soundtrack A Fun Musical Trip Back In Time

Courtesy:  ABKCO Records

Courtesy: ABKCO Records

Writer/Director Edgar Wright notes in the liner notes of the soundtrack of his movie, The World’s End that in writing the movie’s script alongside actor Simon Pegg (Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Room on the Broom), that the pair listened to a playlist consisting of some three hundred songs.  He writes in the very first page of the soundtrack’s liner notes, “When Simon Pegg and myself wrote the screenplay for the film, we listened to a 300 strong playlist of songs, mainly from 1988 to 1993…It powered our writing as much as it power’s Gary’s [King] quest.”  King is the character played by Pegg in the new movie in question.  This single statement from Wright in the very first page of the soundtrack’s liner notes perfectly explain why the songs included in the compilation bear influences from 80’s Brit-pop and synth-pop.  Right off the top, Primal Scream’s ‘Loaded; conjures thoughts of George Michaels’ hit, ‘Freedom’ with its mix of horns and piano.  It’s not a direct lifting of Michaels’ song.  But the similarity is obvious.  It’s just the start of things on this compilation.

The energy established by Primal Scream on the soundtrack’s opener is kicked up another notch as Blur picks up where Primal Scream left off.  Blur’s entry, ‘There’s No Other Way’ is a fitting track for this soundtrack considering the story behind the movie.  Front man Damon Albarn sings in the song’s only verses, “You’re taking the fun out of everything/And making me run when I don’t want to think/You’re taking the fun out of everything/I don’t’ want to think at all…You’re taking the fun out of everything/You’re making it clear when I don’t want to think/You’re taking me up when I don’t’ want to go up anymore/I’m just watching it all.”  This is so fitting in that the plot of the movie centers on Pegg’s character, Gary King.  Gary doesn’t want to have to be an adult and face the adult world, which ends up leading to everything that happens in the story.  Keeping this in mind, it actually becomes quite clear how this song would fit so well into the movie, even with its high energy.  Suffice it to say that it’s just one of so many songs that fans of the old school synth-pop and Brit-pop sounds will appreciate on this compilation.

Just as Blur’s ‘There’s No Other Way’ is a fitting addition to the soundtrack of The World’s End, so is the Soup Dragons’ ‘I’m Free.’  The song, from the Scottish band’s 1990 album, Lovegod, is just as catchy as the compilation’s first two songs.  And in the same fashion, it’s just as fitting lyrically.  The band sings in this song, “I’m free to do what I want/Any old time.”  This would seem to once again mirror Gary’s mindset.   It would be easy to see this song used as part of the pub crawl originally undertaken by Gary’s friends in the movie’s two prequels of sorts, Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead.

If the songs noted here aren’t enough for fans of the old school Brit-pop and synth-pop sounds of the late 80s and early 90s, then there is no reason to worry.  The World’s End soundtrack has more than its share of classics for fans of that genre including the likes of Pulp’s ‘Do You Remember the First Time?’, The Stone Roses’ ‘Fools Gold’, and British rapper Silver Bullet’s ’20 Seconds to Comply (World’s End Bomb Squad Mix Re-edit’, which in its own way shows where The Prodigy might have gotten the influence for its first big hit, ‘Firestarter.’  Whether for these songs, the previously mentioned songs or any of the others included in this compilation, it offers something for any music lover that grew up in the late 80s and early 90s.  It will prove to be a fun musical trip back in time for those listeners when they pick it up now in stores or order it online.

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Room on the Broom An Entertaining, Touching Story For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  NCircle Entertainment

Courtesy: NCircle Entertainment

The new “animated” take on author Julia Donaldson’s children’s book, Room on the Broom is a wonderful piece for families and even churches as the country starts to look towards October and Halloween.  Donaldson, who also wrote The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child, co-wrote the book on which this feature is based, with Axel Scheffler.  This latest feature is much like its predecessors first and foremost because of its run time. It comes in at just under half an hour, much like those features.  Also like those features, this story features its share of lessons, too.  Speaking of the small screen adaptation of The Gruffalo, audiences will appreciate this new release even more as the animated presentation of said book is included on this disc along with a pair of pleasant bonus features to complete the overall positive viewing experience.

The very first aspect of this latest feature from NCircle Entertainment is its run time.  Much like both the Gruffalo and its sequel, this feature is not that long.  It comes in at just under half an hour in length.  There are those that have criticized this feature for the fact that it is as short as it is.  One can’t help but wonder if these same people watched the adaptations of Donaldson’s other books.  If so, did they feel that those features were too short, too?  That run time only serves to make this feature even more kid friendly, along with the lush, beautiful colors and positive lessons.  That is because most young viewers’ attention span doesn’t exceed half an hour.  So this is right on par with any children’s feature.  So whoever would think the run time is a bad thing should perhaps watch it again with more of an open mind.

The lessons taught throughout the short run time of Room on the Broom are another aspect of the feature that viewers of all ages will appreciate.  Throughout the course of the story, it teaches so many important lessons.  It teaches lessons about friendship, acceptance, sharing, respect, teamwork, loyalty, and tolerance.  And it does it all in less than half an hour without making everything seem jumbled together.  For that alone, this adaptation of the modern classic children’s story deserves very high marks.  The lessons are taught via interactions between the witch’s cat, a dog, a bird, and a slightly neurotic frog with a penchant for cleanliness.  The bird’s story of having been rejected by its fellow birds just because of how it looked teaches an invaluable lesson and starting point for discussions on tolerance and acceptance.  What’s more, it will touch very deeply, any viewer with a heart.  On the other side of things, the frog’s penchant for cleanliness will have adults and parents alike laughing.  And the dog’s simple innocence and loyalty adds one more element of joy to the story.  Together, this motley crew illustrates the intended lessons in a way that is accessible both to children and their parents, making the story all the more entertaining and touching.    

The “animated” adaptation of Room on the Broom is very similar in style to its counterparts in The Gruffalo and the Gruffalos Child.  However, it isn’t pointed out in this feature’s bonuses as to whether or not the same mix of claymation and CG was used in bringing the book to life on the screen.  There were elements of CG shown in the behind-the-scenes bonus.  But there was no mention of any claymation.  So it would have been interesting to find out if this indeed was used once again considering how close it looks to those features, stylistically speaking.  For once, this reviewer finds himself noting that regardless of whether it was primarily CG or a mix of both, the visual presentation of the story was absolutely beautiful.  The colors were so rich and vibrant.  Considering the fact that it’s a story about a witch, the bright colors used throughout each scene help to illustrate that this was no ordinary witch and that she didn’t live in the stereotypical world of a witch.  She was a good witch who appreciated everything and everyone around her.  Again, there is one of a handful of positive lessons that parents, teachers, and pastors will appreciate in the story.  Many audiences don’t take into account a factor as minute as colors used in the success or failure of a movie or feature.  But they really do play an integral role, at last on a psychological level.  And that is proven here, just as with so many children’s features.  Combined with the music, the bright colors maintain the feature’s positive vibe, thus in its own way, helps to make Room on the Broom that much more entertaining and family friendly. 

The aspects noted already noted here do so much to make Room on the Broom such a joy.  But no proper review of this new release would be complete without mention of its bonus features.  There are few bonus features this time around.  Audiences get a slightly different behind-the-scenes featurette in this presentation than in its counterparts in The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child.  It makes the extra live performance of the book by author Julia Donaldson stand out even more.  Audiences actually get to see Donaldson perform a reading of the book along with some young friends to help her along the way.  Her performance brings the book to life in an entirely different, but just as entertaining fashion.  It’s something that parents and children will love to take in together.  And even younger viewers will appreciate the performance just as much as the children that were in attendance at the taping of her performance of the book.  This standout bonus serves as the icing on the sweet cake that is this feature.  It will be available in stores and online next Tuesday, August 6th on DVD.  It can be ordered direct from the NCircle online store at http://www.ncircleentertainment.com/room-on-the-broom/843501008041.  To find out about even more releases from NCircle Entertainment, parents can go online to http://www.facebook.com/NCircleEntertainment or the company’s official website, http://www.NCircleEntertainment.com

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‘Twas A Dinosaur Is A “Roaring” Good Time For The Whole Family

Courtesy: Sinking Ship Entertainment/NCircle Entertainment

Nick Jr.’s favorite young paleontologist has a new DVD out that’s fun for the whole family.  “Dino Dan:  ‘Twas A Dinosaur” offers audiences five more episodes that will get young audiences out digging for fossils themselves.  In this latest DVD release, it’s winter time in Dan’s hometown.  And being Winter, Dan learns in the episode, “He Shoots, He Roars” that while some dinosaurs were warm blooded, others weren’t.  He learns this when a paleontologist named Jim and his dino puppet friend, “Denny” visit the class.  Jim teaches the class that the difference between warm and cold blooded dinosaurs was in their ability to move in cold weather.  Jim tells the class that warm blooded dinosaurs moved quickly in cold weather.  But cold blooded dinosaurs moved slowly in cold weather.  So Dan decides to test this with one of his dino buddies during recess.  Younger viewers can find out the reaction of that dino when their parents pick up this DVD.

Dan’s lesson about warm and cold blooded dinosaurs is just one of a handful taught in this new collection of episodes.  Dan (and viewers) learns about a theory that dino gas may have actually been to blame for the extinction of dinosaurs in the episode, “Gas-o-saurus.”  It should be noted again that this is merely a theory.  It’s also very similar to a current theory about methane gases released by cows being a cause for temperature changes in the earth’s atmosphere.  How Dan comes to learn about this theory will have both parents and kids alike laughing.  And how the story keeps having the word “fart” covered up throughout the episode (yes, I said fart) will have parents and their kids laughing, too.

Dan learns some great lessons about dinosaurs in this new DVD compilation.  Parents and kids alike will enjoy these lessons.  Even more though, they’ll enjoy the revamped take on the classic holiday poem, ‘Twas the Night before Christmas.  In the episode, “‘Twas a Dinosaur”, Dan offers his classmates a modern take on the classic starring his dino buddies instead of Old Saint Nick.  Audiences are given a visual of the poem as Dan reads it to his classmates.  It makes for a great, original take on a holiday classic that the whole family will love as the holidays get closer.

Whether it be a new take on a classic poem, or learning lessons about dinosaurs, “Dino Dan:  ‘Twas A Dinosaur” offers loads of enjoyment for the entire family.  There are even more lessons for families in the episodes, “Tooth or Consequences” and “A Winter Tail.”  And there’s even more fun thanks to Dino Dan’s Dino Field Guide in the bonus features.  Dan features the largest of the dinosaurs, the Brachiosaurus, in the field guide this time out, as well as the Stegosaurus.  Families can even get a free dino app for their tablet computers through this new release.  The DVD is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered online direct via NCircle Entertainment’s website at http://www.NCircleEntertainment.com.

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The Wiggles Big Birthday Is A Fun Party For Parents And Kids

Courtesy: NCircle Entertainment

The arena of children’s entertainment is very fickle.  It seems that the networks dedicated to children’s programming have new shows every year.  Save for the likes of Sesame Street and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, few elements of children’s programming have had what could be considered long lasting success.  There is at least one that has.  It’s The Wiggles.

The Wiggles is one of the most beloved and successful acts in children’s entertainment.  This Aussie four piece has sold millions of albums and DVD’s worldwide.  It’s performed in dozens of nations and even impacted some of pop culture’s biggest names.  Now in celebration of all of its accomplishments, The Wiggles has released its 20th birthday celebration on DVD.

The Wiggles Big Birthday is one part concert and one part studio bits separating the live concert segments.  Those segments include Wiggly Joke Time and Wiggly Bloopers.  There are also segments featuring Dorothy the Dinosaur and Captain Feathersword.  One of those segments that kids and parents alike will enjoy sees Captain Feathersword pretending to be a ballerina.  He even has a tutu.  The DVD’s concert segments are enjoyable in their own way, too.  One individual interviewed for the DVD’s bonus documentary put it best about The Wiggles.  He notes that whether in concert or in the studio segments, The Wiggles’ members don’t talk down to their young audiences.  Rather the group as a whole comes out and entertains kids on their own level.  That some of the group’s members have backgrounds in Early Childhood Education and as pre-school teachers is a big reason why The Wiggles relate so well to kids even two decades into the group’s career.

Speaking of the bonus documentary, the bonus documentary is especially of interest to parents.  Kudos to The Wiggles and Ncircle Entertainment for nothing that as brief as it may be, there is one moment involving the death of a child that might upset younger viewers.  Other than that brief moment, the documentary is a wonderful addition to this DVD.  It gives a full in-depth history of The Wiggles’ career.  Parents will learn, for instance, that the current lineup of The Wiggles is not the original lineup.  Before the Wiggles got to where it is now, two of the group’s members were replaced for different reasons.   Parents will also discover the impact that The Wiggles have had on so many celebrities across the world of pop culture.  Combined with the family friendly concert and studio segments, The Wiggles Big Birthday is a party that kids and parents alike will love to celebrate together again and again.

The Wiggles Big Birthday is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered from Ncircle’s website directly at http://www.ncircleentertainment.com.  Parents and kids can follow The Wiggles online, too at http://www.facebook.com/thewiggles, http://www.wiggletime.com, and http://www.thewiggles.com.

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NCircle, PBSKids come “To The Rescue” for parents this summer

Courtesy: NCircle Entertainment/PBSKids

Every year, we see the ads on television about kids losing months of learning during Summer vacation and putting them into this or that learning center for whatever exorbitant amount of money.  In a time when parents and families in general are trying to save money any way they can, those centers are less and less of a logical choice.  Not that they are that logical to begin with.  So what are parents to do if they want to educate their children during the Summer?  Thanks to NCircle Entertainment and PBSKids, a brand new dvd featuring four new WordWorld episodes will hit stores August 21st.

WordWorld:  To The Rescue features four more fun filled episodes for young audiences from the hit PBSKids show.  WordWorld is a wonderful learning tool for preschoolers and Kindergartners.  It literally shows how letters come together to form words, and what those words are.  It’s especially great for those young audiences who are visual learners.  One of the best examples of the show’s genius included in this collection is the opening episode, “Firefighters to the Rescue.”  In “Firefighters to the Rescue”, Duck and Fly are helping Frog build a firetruck.  When Frog tells Duck and Fly what firefighters are and what they do, Duck and Fly ask Frog if they can be firefighters.  Frog tells them that they need to be trained first.  Of course, they don’t go through the rigorous training that real firefighters go through.  But Frog does teach them about spotting smoke.  The problem is that after Frog tells them about spotting smoke, they think that they see smoke everywhere.

At first, Duck and Fly spot steam coming from a train, and mistake it for smoke.  So they run to Frog and tell him they’ve spotted smoke.  The trio get to the train and Frog has to explain that what they’ve seen is steam, not smoke.  And then they spot fog around the lighthouse, and mistake it for smoke.  Again, they go to Frog and tell him about it.  Frog has to correct the pair on this, too.  But then finally, Duck and Fly earn their badges when they really do spot smoke coming from a campfire.  Pig has accidentally set his marshmallows on fire.  The flames are sending up smoke.  So the trio goes to put out the fire.  Once everything’s good, they re-light the campfire safely, and Duck and Fly get their firefighters badges.

On the surface, “Firefighters to the Rescue” is a wonderful way to teach children new words.  On another level, though, parents and/or can use this episode for perhaps Kindergartners to lead in to a discussion of firefighters and fire safety.  It’s a great introduction for fire safety week at a school or simply to teach kids at home about fire safety and what to look for.  So kudos to NCircle and PBSKIds for that.

Another of the really great episodes from this collection also stars Duck.  That episode is “The Best Nest.”  Duck wants to take his nest to school for show & tell in this episode.  But when he tries to pull his nest to school, the letters for the nest come apart because it’s too heavy.  So Duck has to hunt down the letters that make his nest.  He gets the “N” off of his head.  He has to swim after Turtle because the “E” is on Turtle’s shell.  And the “S” is in a branch right above him when he gets back on land.  Last, he catches the “T” just as it’s beginning to head out to sea, only to lose it again on a train car.  When the train stops, Duck falls out.  But luckily, he has the “T” with him.  So he goes in and puts the word together to re-form his nest and show it to his classmates.

The episodes included in this collection are just one part of what makes it a great collection.  When parents put the disc into the dvd drive of their computer, they can link to the PBSKids website.  There’s also a fold out poster that parents and kids can hang together in a bedroom.  Overall, this is a wonderful collection for young audiences.  It’s a great watch for kids whether during the Summer or any other time of the year.

Parents and/or teachers who might be interested in purchasing this dvd can pick it up in stores August 21st, or order it online at http://shop.pbskids.org/?utm_source=PBS.ORG&utm_medium=Main_Nav_Shop_Tab&utm_campaign=Shop_PBS_KIDS_Shop

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NCircle Entertainment brings back another piece of television nostalgia

Courtesy: NCircle Entertainment

The 1990’s was one of the greatest eras of television.  That’s especially the case for children’s programming.  However, it wasn’t the only great era of broadcasting for kids.  Kids had a lot from which to choose during the 1980’s, too.  One of the greatest of the cartoons from the 1980’s was the one and only Super Mario Brothers Super Show.  Who doesn’t remember watching this after school animated classic on the original Family Channel way back before it became Fox Family and then ABC Family?  Now, fans that grew up watching Mario, Luigi, Toad and Princess Toadstool take on King Koopa can enjoy a whole volume of episodes all over again, thanks to Super Mario Brothers Super Show Volume One.

Originally, both volumes of this classic cartoon’s episodes were released by Shout! Factory in 2006.  Now, NCircle Entertainment has re-released the show in a trimmed down format.  This collection offers all of the classic Super Mario Brothers Super Show cartoons sans the live action segments that bookended them in the show’s original airings.  As enjoyable as those segments were, the cartoons themselves were just as enjoyable.  And Volume One has more than its share of enjoyable episodes.  Volume One sees Mario, Luigi and Toad having to care for Princess Toadstool after she’s turned into a baby.  Also, Mario and company tackle the classic tale of Jack and The Beanstalk in their own way.  And in a Halloween themed episode, the gang faces King Koopa and his evil minions in their own take on Brams Stoker’s horror classic, Dracula.

One of the key episodes in this most recent release of Super Mario Brothers Super Show is “Two Plumbers and a Baby.”  It could be argued that the title is a spoof of the classic 80’s movie franchise, “3 Men and a Baby.”  In this episode, Mario Luigi, Toad, and Princess Toadstool are in the kingdom of youth.  They have to face down King GooGoo GaGa Koopa.  Of course, it’s really King Koopa in disguise.  They are hunting Koopa down because he’s using the kingdom’s fountain of youth for his own evil purposes.  Surprisingly, the fountain works.  Only it works too well.  When Princess Toadstool accidentally falls into the fountain, she gets turned into a baby.  So Mario, Luigi, and Toad are left to protect her from King Koopa.  She causes all kinds of trouble for the guys along the way, including being carried away on a raft.  Things reach a head when the princess follows some fireflies to Koopa’s castle. During the conflict, Mario and Luigi swing King Koopa into the fountain, turning him into a baby, too.  Once he’s out of the way, the guys turn the water’s flow and turn everyone back into an adult.

The Super Mario Brothers Super Show spoofed more than popular culture during its run on television.  It also spoofed classical literature.  One of the best of those spoofs is in the episode, “Mario and The Beanstalk.”  This episode is a loose take-off of the classic tale, with a few minor changes thrown in.  Mario and Luigi have to get 100 Gold Coins to save the Mushroom Kingdom orphange.  So the princess tells them to sell the royal cow to get the coins.  They end up selling the cow for a handful of Garbanzo beans.  When they bring the beans back, the princess is anything but happy.  She tells them that she’s allergic to Garbanzo beans, and tosses them out.  While everyone is sleeping later that night, a giant beanstalk grows.  The group discovers the beanstalk in the morning, and climbs it to see how high it goes.  It leads them to a castle in the sky.  Instead of a giant, they encounter a giant King Koopa.  In their attempt to outrun Koopa, they stumble on his treasure room, and the fabled “Golden Goose.”  Instead of laying eggs, the goose lays Gold Coins.  When they help the goose escape being held captive by Koopa, the goose helps Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstool, and Toad get away from the castel.  They all get out together and climb back down the beanstalk where Mario cuts it down.  When the beanstalk falls, it brings Koopa’s castle with it.  The castle falls into a pond, causing Koopa to shring down to their size. 

Jack and The Beanstalk is just one piece of classical literature that The Super Mario Brothers Super Show spoofed during its run.  In “Count Koopula”, Mario and the gang are lured into the castle of Count Koopula, who is, of course, really King Koopa.  This time, he takes on the mantle of the infamous Count Dracula.  As they try to escape Count Koopula’s castle, the group has to face wereturtles, zombie Goombas and Koopa’s lead henchman, Mouser.  When the princess is captured, the guys take some spare garlic that they have, and eat it.  They use their powerful garlic breath and natural light to defeat Koopa.  Koopa turns into a bat and flies out the castle, leaving it to crumble after being defeated.  The group gets out of the castle safe and sound before it crumbles.

Super Mario Brothers Super Show has so many great episodes.  There are far more in this new volume of episodes than there is room and time to discuss.  That in mind, this is one more great piece of nostalgia for anyone who gew up in what is arguably one of the greatest eras of animation.  After having released so many single disc collections, it’s great to see NCircle Entertainment release this newest double disc set.  And with any luck, whenever the next volume is released, it will include  not just the rest of the show’s original episodes, but the Mario Bros. plumbing live action segments that originally came with the show, too.  Until then, this first volume is still a great chance for many viewers to go back to their own childhoods once again.

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