Scholastic’s Latest A Delectable Dish Of A DVD

Courtesy:  Scholastic/New Video/Weston Woods

Courtesy: Scholastic/New Video/Weston Woods

Scholastic’s latest collection from its Storybook Treasures series is another hit for audiences of all ages.  This single disc compilation offers four more stories that not only entertain but also teach very important life lessons.  It’s all anchored by the famed children’s story, The Red HenThe Red Hen makes this compilation well worth the compilation’s price.  Though, it isn’t all that makes it so enjoyable.  Veteran actress Lily Tomlin (The Magic School Bus, Prairie Home Companion, Malibu Country) adds her touch to the short story, Bread Comes to Life.  And while it isn’t animated, this short story offers a nice little lesson how bread is made that easily understandable for younger audiences and just as entertaining.  Along with the entertainment factor of Bread Comes to Life, the other features on this disc offer their own entertainment from both their genuine animation and their lessons.  And as with Scholastic’s previous releases, this one also offers the option to toggle the read-along feature, depending on the age of one’s child/children.  It’s one more continued tradition that parents will enjoy whether they are first time audiences or more experienced.  And of course, let us also now forget the bonus recipe for Simply Splendid Cake that kids and parents can make together.  That recipe, along with the four features included here all come together for a compilation that will leave a great “taste” in any viewer’s mouth (ba-dump-bump-bump). Thank you, thank you.  I’ll be here all week!

The Red Hen…and More Cooking Stories is anchored by its title story.  The Red Hen is a story that both children and parents will enjoy because of its ability to connect to viewers.  The Red Hen wants to make a cake.  But no one will help her.  So she is left to do all the work of making a cake all alone.  When the work is all done and the cake is decorated, the cat, the rat, and the frog all offer to help her eat it, but get none.  There’s a very valuable lesson to be taught here.  It’s a lesson of cooperation and responsibility.  The cat, the rat, and the frog learned the hard way that no work means no reward.  This applies not just in the kitchen but in everyday life.  One reaps the rewards of the work that one does whether with a team or by one’s own self.  Considering this factor, “The Red Hen” instantly becomes that much more of a fit to start off this new set of shorts. 

The lesson on cooperation and teamwork makes for a wonderful start to this most recent set.  It’s not the only lesson taught.  “How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food” also teaches another important lesson for children.  It teaches a lesson about manners.  What young child doesn’t love dinosaurs?  By using that connection, it teaches children that while they may be wild creatures, even dinosaurs have manners.  So if dinosaurs can have manners, so can children.  They should use the dinosaurs as an example of what behavior is right and wrong.  And that it features actual animation instead of CG based visuals makes it that much more enjoyable, especially in an age when so much children’s programming is CG-based.

“The Red Hen” and “How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food” are both enjoyable additions to Scholastic’s latest Storybook Treasures compilation.  The other pair of shorts is entertaining for its own purposes, too.  And just as they make for their own entertainment, so will the bonus feature, teaching kids and adults how to make The Red Hen’s Simply Splendid Cake.  The Red Hen takes viewers through the process of making the cake in this bonus feature. She even makes certain to point out to younger viewers that they should not try to make the recipe on their own.  They should have adult supervision in making it whether for cupcakes or for an entire cake.  So not only does the Red Hen teach about cooperation and teamwork, she also teaches young viewers about safety in the kitchen.  It makes for one more positive to this already enjoyable set for the whole family.

The Red Hen…and More Cooking Stories is available now.  It can be ordered online at the New Kideo online store at http://www.newkideo.com/scholastic/the-red-hen-and-more-cooking-stories/

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New MLB DVD Is A “Perfect” Bonus For Giants, Baseball Fans In 2012

Courtesy: MLB Productions/A&E Home Video/New Video

The San Francisco Giants are headed back to the playoffs again this year.  It’s the third straight year for the Giants, who last won the MLB title in 2010.  The Giants won the MLB title against the Texas Rangers in 2010, which also will be back in the playoffs this year.  The Giants’ return trip to the playoffs isn’t the only accomplishment of which the team has to be proud this year.  Regardless of what happens with the Giants, fans and the team can look back this year and smile knowing the team also earned its first ever perfect game this year.

The Giants’ first ever perfect game came this year on June 13th at the team’s home stadium, AT&T Park.  For once, the number thirteen proved to be good luck, as the Giants would dominate the Astros 10-0 over the course of nine innings.  Both teams would end up going scoreless in the last half of the game.  But thanks to the pitching of Matt Cain and the team’s impressive fielding work, all the Giants would need would be the first five innings.  Melky Cabrera would strike first in the bottom of the first inning with a home run that would bring in both himself and team mate Ryan Theriot.  Theriot had just gotten on base after a ground ball single to left field.  Cabrera’s homer sealed the inning for the Giants.

Things only got better for the Giants in the bottom of the second inning as Brandon Belt would also score a two run homer.  Belt’s homer also brought in Pablo Sandoval after Sandoval led the bottom of the inning with a fly ball single to Right Field.  Joaquin Arias came up to bat next, knocking out a fly ball deep to center field for a double.  Ground outs by Cain and fellow team mate Gregor Blanco would allow Arias to bring in run number three for the Bay area boys.

The Giants would be relentless as they headed into the bottom of the third with two more runs.  One Melky Cabrera would score one of the runs after a line drive single to Center Field by Sandoval off of Astros pitcher J.A. Happ.  Sandoval’s hit also sent catcher Buster Posey to third. Posey had originally hit a double on a deep line drive down the Left Field line.  Posey went on to score after a ground ball single to Right Field by Belt.  Both Belt and Sandoval were left stranded after both Cain and Blanco struck out. 

While Cain struck out, he kept showing his skills on the mound, keeping the Astros at bay for yet another inning in the fourth.  That would allow the Giants to open the team’s already seven run lead again with one more run by Ryan Theriot.  Theriot got on base with a line drive single to Center Field off of the Astros’ J.A. Happ.  Buster Posey’s line drive single to Center Field sent Theriot to third.  That, followed by Angel Pagan taking a walk to first, and a hit by Sandoval allowed Theriot to score and open the Giants’ lead to 8-0. 

The Giants followed up that run with what would be the last two of the game in the fifth off the pitching of the Astros’ Rhiner Cruz.  Matt Cain finally got on base with a ground ball single to Left Field.  Gregor Blanco followed Cain’s hit with a two-run home run to seal the inning.  Those two runs would be the only ones for the Giants.  But they would be enough to seal the game for the Giants.  The Astros’ defensive unit finally came to life in the sixth, holding the Giants scoreless from there on.  But after having scored ten runs in five innings, that defense proved to be too little too late.  The Giants went on to win on both its batting lineup and Cain’s pitching.  The team hit a total of fifteen hits and ten runs.  Now whether one is a Giants fan or a fan of the country’s greatest game in general, fans can re-live this greatest game any time as it’s now available on DVD.  It can be ordered direct via MLB Productions’ website, http://shop.mlb.com/product/index.jsp?productId=13117893.

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The Magic School Bus Is Still A Fun Family Ride After Twenty-Five Years

Courtesy: Scholastic/New Video

Twenty-five years is a long time for a TV show to air.  It’s an especially long time for a show that lasted only fifty-two episodes.  Even at fifty-two episodes, Scholastic’s The Magic School Bus has lasted a quarter of a century on air.  Numerous other shows have come and gone since The Magic School Bus first debuted.  But few have had the lasting impression that this family classic has had.  In celebration of The Magic School Bus’ twenty-fifth anniversary, Scholastic is giving families and teachers alike the opportunity to enjoy the series in its entirety on DVD September 4th.

The MagicSchool Bus:  The Complete Series is one of the best DVD releases and best box sets that any family can own this year.  All fifty-two episodes from the show’s original run are contained on eight separate discs.  Each disc is contained in its own slim case contained within the larger box.  This protects the discs, and thus increases their life for possibly another generation.  Scholastic and New Video are to be commended for this. 

The packaging for The Magic School Bus:  The Complete Series is only one part of the whole that makes this set worth the money.  When viewers decide on separate episodes, they are given a short summary of each episode’s story.  These episode summaries are also included in the bonus Activity Booklet and Parents’ Guide that is also included in the set.  The episodes themselves are presented exactly as they originally aired, complete with the post show “call-in’s” with the show’s producer (voiced by Malcolm-Jamal Warner—The Cosby Show). 

Getting back to the bonus Activity Booklet and Parents’ Guide, it is a nice addition to the set.  Not only does is offer a complete episode guide, but it also offers a handful of ideas for teachers and parents alike to use in coordination with what children are learning through the course of their school year.  For instance, it offers viewing tips for parents and teachers.  It mentions for parents to talk with their kids about what they’re learning at school before viewing the episodes.  That will allow parents to decide which of the episodes their kids could watch as an additional tool.  It even mentions viewing the episodes more than once to help kids really get the idea of what Ms. Frizzle and her class are studying.  This applies for teachers, too, as it will help show them ingenious ways to get their students to answer their won questions.  This is such a simple tool.  But it will go a very long way in teaching young audiences today.

Being that there are fifty-two episodes to watch, there’s something for everyone.  Given, there are little dated pieces here and there such as the older style computers, or that Pluto is still considered a planet in the very first episode.  But that can easily be forgiven.  What matters in that first episode is the fun of seeing Ms. Frizzle and her class blast off into space to study the planets.  Of course it isn’t their only adventure.  The class also gets to go to a coral reef, inside the human body (twice), and even to a supposedly haunted house in the episode, “The Magic School Bus In The Haunted House.”  Being that Halloween is coming up, that would be a great episode.  Not only is it a fun creepy episode, but it also teaches about the science of sound in a way in which young audiences would understand.

The MagicSchool Bus:  The Complete Series is a wonderful set for the entire family to own.  It’s one of those rare shows that continue to transcend generations, even a quarter of a century after its debut.  For those that might not be able to get their hands on the complete set, worry not.  That’s because again thanks to Scholastic and New Video, there are also six volumes of complete episodes available at a lower price available now.  Four of the sets are single disc compilations with four episodes each.  And the remaining two sets have three discs each, complete with twelve episodes.  To get more information on The Magic School Bus, parents and teachers can go online to http://www.scholastic.com, http://www.newkideo.com, http://www.facebook.com/newkideo, and http://www.facebook.com/Scholastic.  

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American Pickers Volume Three is one great pick

Reality shows are all the rage right now.  It seems that nearly every network is dominated by reality shows.  From the Big Four (CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX) to the major cable networks, viewers are bombarded by reality shows every day.  There is such a glut of reality shows that one can’t help but wonder which shows will still be standing when and if the reality show industry finally implodes on itself.  When and if that day comes, suffice to say that one of the few shows that will still be standing is History Channel’s hit show, American Pickers.  The show’s newest collection, “American Pickers:  Volume Three” is proof of that. 

“American Pickers:  Volume Three” was released Tuesday.  And the episodes contained on this new collection are some of the best proof of what makes this show stand out in an ocean of reality shows.  What makes American Pickers such a great program is that unlike so many of the other shows of its ilk, it takes viewers across the backroads of America.  It’s not so much about the value of the stuff that Mike and Frank pick.  It’s about learning about America’s history through the nation’s people.  The people that Mike and Frank meet come from every walk of life.  Their stories are the “people’s stories.”  One could almost argue that what American Pickers does is it combines the best elements of PBS’ Antiques Roadshow with legendary CBS newsman Walter Cronkite’s travels across America.  Now, with the third volume of episodes, fans get another chance to see just what makes American Pickers such a great show.  In Volume Three, Mike and Frank meet a man named Larry.  Larry’s “home made town” epitomizes what American Pickers is all about.  They also meet Hobo Jack, who is literally a hobo.  But his stories and his stuff are worth their weight in rusty gold.  And in what is one of the show’s best episodes yet, Mike and Frank finally let Danielle go picking.  She proves that she’s got what it takes, while Frank learns a hard lesson about doing Danielle’s job.

Volume Three is loaded with great episodes on its two discs.  Among all the great episodes, one of the best is “Mike’s Breakdown.”  This episode opens with the guys meeting Jan Burton.  Danielle had told them that Jan had a 1965 Honda motorcycle.  But she didn’t tell them what line the bike was.  Frank, hoping it was a Scrambler, is excited.  But then when Jan tells Frank that the bike was indeed a Scrambler but had already been sold, it hits him pretty hard.  They do find an old printing press, though.  At the end of the episode, they get their friend, “Mushroom” to appraise it for them.  After looking it over and talking to them about it, he gives it a pretty hefty price tag, at which they’re obviously very happy. 

Next up, they meet a gentleman named Larry in Wisconsin.  Larry had saved loads of old buildings that were going to be torn down, and actually made his own “home made town” called Unionville with them.  As Mike notes, Larry is one of the reasons that he loves doing what he does.  Larry shows that he has respect for America’s history and is trying to preserve it for future generations so they’ll remember America’s past.  The town looks like a life size model town right out of a train set.  Its condition is stunningly impressive.  While they’re touring the “town”, Frank finds a beautiful old “leadlight.”  The guys also find a DX oil sign and an old liquor store sign.  While those were the only real picks they found, Larry’s “town” and his stories about how he brought it together were the real find.  Again, it is a perfect example of what makes American Pickers so great.  It’s not always about the picks.  It’s also about discovering pieces of America’s history.  The stories are just as valuable as the finds.

The final segment of this episode finds Mike and Frank meeting a guy named Ted.  Ted’s house is absolutely amazing.  It’s beyond description.  It really is one of those things that has to be seen to be believed *hint hint*.  Among all the stuff that Ted has, he has fake aliens that were used as props in a little show by the name of Roswell.  He also has a perfect condition porcelain Goodyear tires sign and loads more.  After getting the picks that they wanted, the guys head back to Iowa.  But on the way, they have to call Mike’s brother after the van breaks down.  Frank had been complaining about feeling something weird.  But Mike didn’t believe him until it finally happened.  They do get back to the shop in the end, which is when the printing press is appraised.  And as “punishment” for not listening to Frank, Mike has to pull weeds outside the store while he [Frank] and Danielle kick back and enjoy a cold drink.

In another example of what makes AP such a great show, Mike and Frank meet a Vietnam Veteran named Tony.  Mike and Frank don’t even discover this until later in the first segment of the episode, “Hobo Jack.”  Tony’s got loads of classic stuff, including a korean helmet and grenades.  He also has a classic toy Dick Tracy car that Frank falls for.  Frank also manages to get Tony to sell him a classic movie projector and giant pair of antlers in a bundle. 

Next up Mike and Frank meet Ken in their cross country touring.  Ken has some stuff that the guys get.  They pick out an urn, some chairs, and a bicycle that he was keeping for a friend.

After meeting Tony and Ken, Mike and Frank are still looking for the “golden pick” that could help the shop bring in some real money.  That’s when they come upon real life hobo named Hobo Jack.  Jack doesn’t have a house.  He lives way out in the forest.  And while he and his surroundings look every part the hobo lifestyle, his stuff is just as great a find.  While going through Jack’s buildings, Frank finds a 1921 V-Twin engine for an Indian motorcycle.  It takes over an hour, but Mike finds the transmission that goes with the engine.  The guys also find an old Excelsior bicycle and a 2-cycle engine that turns out to be one heck of a find after having it appraised.  The  engine turns out to be a Curtiss motor.  It’s appraised at $7,000.  That’s a good thing for Mike since he had bought it for $3,000.  The bike itself was appraised at $8,000.  He had bought the bike for $6,000.  So in total, Mike spent $9,000.  But the total appraisal for the two would bring in upwards of $15,000.

In another of the collection’s best episodes, Danielle finally gets to go picking.  After having a bit of a blowup with Frank, she and Frank agree that Frank would give her job a try, while she goes out picking with Mike.  Danielle starts out slow.  But it doesn’t take her long to catch on and take off.  The real fun starts for Danielle when she and Mike meet Jesse and Ricardo in Pennsylvania.  These two guys are eccentric to say the least.  But when she discovers a bunch of vintage clothes in their equally eccentric home, she takes off.  Frank, on the other hand, isn’t doing so well trying to do Danielle’s job.  After meeting Jesse and Ricardo, Mike and Danielle meet Steve and Bill, who work at the Hotel Tidioute in PA.  Danielle finds a portrait of a woman in what looks like Victorian dress.  She falls in love with it.  She decides to start flirting with Steve and Bill in order to get a deal.  And it works.  All four later go to the hotel’s basement, where Mike finds a really old pinball game.  He gets Danielle to use her “womanly ways” to get Steve and Bill to come down on their price.  And do they ever.  They go from wanting a price in the triple digits all the way down to $90.  Mike and Danielle take the pinball machine to have it appraised.  They’re pleasantly surprised when it’s given a number in the range of $800.  To make things better, the machine works, too.When they finally get back to the shop, Danielle tells Frank about the pick, to which he’s very impressed.  Danielle does admit that she’s ready to get back to her job, though.  So everyone did learn a lesson in the end. 

American Pickers is one the best shows in the mass of reality tv today.  It’s such a simple show.  But its general construction is what makes it so great.  And this newest volume from the show proves why it is a leader among the pack.  Whether for the episodes listed here or the others included in the set, “American Pickers Volume Three” is one of the few reality tv shows on dvd worth picking up this year.  Anyone that wants to check out this brand new double disc set can get it through History Channel’s shop site, http//shop.history.com.

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