Shout! Factory, Sesame Workshop To Release Another New Sesame Street Special

Courtesy: Sesame Workshop/Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory is bringing audiences of all ages a new Sesame Street special.

Sesame Street — The Magical Wand Chase is currently scheduled to be released Nov. 6 through a partnership between Shout! Factory and Sesame Workshop.  Filmed across three New York City neighborhoods, the story presented in this new special follows Elmo and Abby Cadabby on a hunt for Abby’s wand.

A playful bird voiced by Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger GamesThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) takes Abby’s wand, leading her and Elmo to hunt down the wand across New York.Along the way, the duo learns valuable life lessons about making friends and cultural diversity.  The pair can’t return to Sesame Street without Abby’s wand, though, so Elmo and Abby must find the wand before it’s too late.

As added bonuses, the DVD also features a trio of extras, the companion full-length episode The Golden Triangle of Diversity, full-length feature Elmo’s Alphabet Challenge and a downloadable storybook version of Elmo and the Lost Wand.  The trailer for the new feature is streaming now here.

This new “movie” marks the first time since 1994 that Sesame Workshop has filmed a feature-length presentation on location.  Pre-orders are open now.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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More information on this and other titles from Sesame Workshop is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.sesameworkshop.org

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PBS’ New Fred Rogers Doc Is A Good Starting Point For Audiences Unfamiliar With Rogers’ Life, Career

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

Almost one year from now, iconic television figure Fred Rogers will have his life story told….sort of….in a new biopic from Big Beach Films and Tristar Pictures.  The movie will star legendary screen actor Tom Hanks in Rogers’ signature red cardigan sweater and sneakers.  Of course while this seems all good and fine, everybody knows that far too often, biopics are overly embellished with some falsehoods.  Keeping that in mind, so many more accurate documentations of Rogers’ life and career have already been released that have proven far more worth audiences’ time.  One of the most recent of those more worthwhile presentations is PBS’ latest Fred Rogers doc, It’s You I Like.  Having originally aired on PBS stations nationwide March 8, the hour-long program will be released on DVD Oct. 2.  Not to be confused with Universal Pictures’ equally popular big-screen Fred Rogers doc Won’t You Be My Neighbor, this program is not the first toe be released from PBS, but is still an enjoyable look at Rogers’ life and career.  That is due in no small part to the story at the center of the doc.  This will be discussed shortly.  The program’s transitions, by connection, are just as important to examine as the story.  They will be discussed a little bit later.  The footage, pictures and interviews used to help tell the story round out its most important elements.  Each element is important in its own right to the whole of It’s You I Like.  All things considered, they make It’s You I Like another welcome look at Fred Rogers’ life and career.

PBS’ latest profile of Fred Rogers, It’s You I Like, is another welcome look at the life and career of one of television’s most iconic figures.  The network’s first profile of Rogers since 2011’s Mister Rogers & Me, it is a good companion to that profile.  That is due in part to the program’s central story, which discusses what made – and makes – him so respected and beloved to this very day. It presents – as with so many other previously released docs – a man who was genuine in how he addressed tough topics, such as death, divorce and even where babies come from and who was just as genuine off camera as he was on camera.  Audiences also learn through the program that apparently, Mister Rogers had quite a sense of humor, and not in a bad way, either.  The story is told partially through interviews with celebrities, such as John Lithgow, Judd Apatow and Sarah Silverman, as they discuss Mister Rogers’ influence on them as they watch vintage clips of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.  Veteran actor Michael Keaton, who got his start in show business on the long-running series, serves as the program’s host, and adds his own stories of life on set and of Fred Rogers, the man behind the camera.  The whole thing uses music, fittingly, as the foundation for the presentation.  The focus on music here is fitting because, as noted at one point in the program, it is noted that Rogers earned a degree in music composition in college.  Again, this is not the first time that this has been noted in a documentary on Rogers’ life and career, but maybe not everyone knew this.  To that end, it is a good addition to the program, as it explains why there is such a heavy emphasis on music throughout this story.  Considering all of this in mind, many audiences will find the story at the center of It’s You I Like familiar.  For those who might be less familiar with Rogers’ life and career, it is a good brief, but concise introduction.  To that end, this presentation will appeal, at least in terms of its story, more to audiences less familiar with Rogers’ life and career than those who have seen the other Fred Rogers docs that have been released already.  Staying on that note of the story’s familiarity, the story’s transitions are just as important to its presentation as the story itself.

The story’s transitions are of note because they are so smooth.  What is really of note is that Rogers’ beloved “picture-picture” is largely the source of those transitions.  At many points, the story will go from the final scene of one chapter to a slow zoom out of the picture frame and back in at the end of Keaton’s segments.  At other times, the transitions are more basic, going from the final moment of a given chapter to a fade or a smooth cut back to the old set of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.  Regardless of the transitions, it can be said that each one keeps the story progressing so smoothly from one segment to the next, ensuring that viewers will never be lost.  Getting back to the doc’s story, this means that, again, audiences less familiar with Mister Rogers’ life and career are that much more apt to remain engaged and entertained throughout the program.  When the two elements are coupled, they show even more why those noted audiences will enjoy this presentation as their first exposure to the man who was more than just a television figure, but one of America’s most important figures on and off camera.  Having noted all of this, the actual material used to tell the documentary’s story rounds out the most important elements of It’s You I Like.

The material used to tell the story of It’s Your I Like is as familiar as the story itself for most audiences, and just as fresh, again, for those less familiar with his story.  Audiences are presented here with footage and pictures of Mister Rogers on the set of his show, as well as interviews with various celebrities to tell the story.  The footage includes moments, such as Rogers joking with fellow cast mates David Newell (Mr. McFeely), Francois Clemmons (Officer Clemmons) and crew members as well as footage of Rogers interviewing stars, such as Yo-Yo Ma (and his son), Wynton Marsalis and Margaret Hamilton (The Wizard of Oz) at various points throughout.  The pictures featured across the program were taken from the days when the show was still running.  There are candid pictures featuring Rogers and the show’s cast and crew, a picture of Mister Rogers with the one and only Big Bird (from Sesame Street) included in the discussion of Big Bird crossing over into the “Land of Make Believe” and even pictures of Rogers in his youth.  Between those pictures and others, audiences get a wonderfully rich picture of the show from its birth to its end.  Meanwhile the interviews with Rogers’ widow and the previously noted celebrities serve to illustrate even more the legacy and impact of the man who was Mister Rogers.  When those interviews, pictures and footage all come together to tell the story of a man who truly did like everyone, the end result is a documentary that those just starting to learn about Mister Rogers will enjoy.

PBS’ latest Fred Rogers documentary It’s You I Like is a good introduction to the life and legacy of Mister Rogers for those who might not be so familiar with Rogers’ life and career. That is due in part to a story that for other viewers, proves relatively familiar.  It touches briefly on Rogers’ accomplishments and efforts, giving a concise overview why he is still such a revered figure, even in death.  The story’s transitions ensure audiences’ engagement just as much as the story itself, as do the collective interviews, footage and pictures used to help tell the story.  Each element is important in its own right to the whole of the presentation.  All things considered, they make It’s You I Like a doc that fans unfamiliar with Fred Rogers’ life and career will like as much as he liked everyone.  It will be available on DVD Oct. 2, and can be ordered direct via PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other titles from PBS is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/pbs

 

 

 

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‘The Jazz Ambassadors’ Tells A Surprising Story Of Music, Politics Colliding

Courtesy: PBS

When most people think of jazz, they think of a musical genre that has stayed to itself throughout America’s history.  They think it is a genre that, like classical, has been aimed at a very specific audience.  However, in the mid 1950s and early 1960s, jazz took to the world stage thanks to the cold war and other global issues.  In the process, its rise around the world also helped to bring more attention not only to itself, but to the racial disparity and civil rights movement that was growing back home.  That story of jazz’s global reach is the basis for PBS’ recently released documentary The Jazz Ambassadors.  Released late this past June, the documentary’s story is the most important of its elements.  It will be discussed shortly.  The story’s transitions play their own crucial part to its overall presentation, and will be discussed a little later.  The interviews, pictures and footage used to help tell the story round out its most important elements.  Each item noted here is important in its own way.  All things considered, they make The Jazz Ambassadors a far-reaching presentation that will appeal to students and lovers of music, politics and jazz alike.

PBS’ recently released documentary The Jazz Ambassadors is a far-reaching documentary about the relationship between the worlds of jazz and politics that is certain to appeal to students and lovers of both realms.  That is due in no small part to the 90-minute documentary’s story.  As already noted, the story at the center of this program focuses on the unlikely relationship between the worlds of jazz and global politics during the mid 1950s and early 1960s.  The story starts at the start of the Cold War, with Russia pointing out the blatant racism that plagued America, and the attempt by American political forces to change that view.  The American government’s response was to send some of the biggest names in the jazz world to Russia, India, Africa and other nations as “ambassadors.”  The reaction from those acts – many of which were desegregated – actually had unintended results.  By sending acts such as Duke Ellington, The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Dizzie Gillespie and others overseas, their music brought more attention to the plight of African-Americans at the time while also raising the profile of jazz around the world.  Audiences will be surprised to find out that one act in particular – Louis Armstrong – even clashed with the government at one point over its efforts.  Not to give away too much, but at one point, Armstrong had some very strong words for Ike Eisenhower.  These are just some of the interesting elements that make Jazz Ambassadors’ story so interesting.  The revelation that Armstrong unwittingly helped the American government in a conflict in Africa is just as interesting to note, as is then President John F. Kennedy’s reaction to the Civil Rights Movement.  This is included in the final chapter of the documentary.  Between all of this and so much more presented from start to finish, the story at the center of The Jazz Ambassadors gives the already noted audiences plenty to appreciate.  It is of course just one of the elements that makes the documentary stand out.  The story’s transitions play their own important role in the doc’s presentation.

The transitions used throughout the course of the story are subtle, but do so much for the doc’s overall presentation.  It is not obvious at first, but the transitions appear in the form of quotes in white, set against a black background.  Those quotes set the scene for each of the program’s chapters.  At first glance, the quotes don’t seem like much, but in hindsight, they make plenty of sense as each segment progresses.  Case in point, the final segment introducing Duke Ellington’s role in the government’s PR efforts.  It opens with a quote from Ellington about being able to speak about the government’s actions if one disagrees with what is going on.  This plays into the segment as the interviewees talk about Ellington’s trip to India with his orchestra and what happened while they were there.  The quotes from the Polish and Russian musicians that lead into the segments focusing on their reaction to meeting the American jazz stars work just as well, as those stories are told, as are the other quotes and their segments.  Keeping all of this in mind, the break points are not only placed well, but fully functional, too.  To that end, they help keep the program moving fluidly while also proving key to each segment in their own right.  When this is considered along with the story itself, both elements go a long way toward keeping the program engaging throughout.  While they do plenty collectively to keep audiences entertained, they are not the only elements to note in examining the program’s presentation.  The collected interviews, footage and pictures used to tell the story round out the most important of its elements.

The interviews, footage and pictures included in The Jazz Ambassadors are collectively, the foundation of the program.  Without their inclusion in the program, there would be no program to speak of.  From academics, authors and ordinary musicians who had first-hand encounters with the noted celebrities to the artists’ family and fellow musicians, viewers are offered plenty of engaging insights and stories about the international trips taken by Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong and others “employed” by the U.S. government.  The footage gives audiences a rare chance to hear the noted audiences in settings outside the studio, both in interview and performing settings.  Those moments create their own entertainment and engagement, too.  The archived photos add even more interest and depth to the program because they serve to illustrate the items discussed by the interviewees.  As minor as it may seem in itself, it does plenty to keep viewers engaged, especially considering the sometimes slower pace of the story.  To that end, those visual aids, coupled with the discussions, prove hugely important to the program’s presentation.  When they are coupled with that noted archived footage, the whole of those elements proves critical to the program’s presentation.  Next to the story itself, they are among the most important of the program’s whole.  When they are considered along with the program’s transitions, all three elements together make The Jazz Ambassadors an important presentation about not only the history of jazz, but of political history, too.  In other words, it proves to be a far-reaching presentation that will appeal to plenty of audiences.

PBS’ recently released historical work The Jazz Ambassadors is an intriguing presentation that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  It is a program that outlines a key period in the history of jazz and the history of America’s political and social upheaval.  This is done by outlining how the two worlds collided in unlikely fashion, ultimately leading to a growth of jazz’s popularity globally and of the importance of the civil rights movement in America.  The stories and insight offered by the interviewees ensure audiences’ engagement and entertainment throughout the story.  The same can be said of the transitions used to divide the program’s segments and keep the program moving.  When they are all combined, they make the program in whole a presentation that the noted audiences will agree is an important addition to their libraries and classrooms.  It is available now and can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other titles from PBS is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org

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PBS Announces Release Date For New ‘Super Why’ DVD

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids/Public Media Distribution

Whyatt and the rest of the Super Readers are coming to DVD with another new collection of Super Why episodes next month.

Super Why: The Adventures of Little Bo Peep and Her Sheep is currently scheduled to be released Oct. 2 via Public Media Distribution.  The 46-minute DVD features two episodes of the family friendly vocabulary-building series in the form of “Little Bo Peep” and “The Sheep Who Lost Little Bo Beep” in a sort of twice-told tale sort of format.

The first of the two episodes follows Whyatt as he tries to figure out how to find Mr. Lizard after Mr. Lizard goes missing.  The answer, as always, is in a book.  The Super Readers meet Little Bo Peep, who is looking for her sheep in a similar situation.  Their adventure with Little Bo Peep helps Whyatt figure out how to find Mr. Lizard in the end.

“The Sheep Who Lost Little Bo Peep” sees the Super Readers as they help two of Little Bo Peep’s sheep find her in the episode’s namesake book.  This comes after Whyatt has a playdate with Wolfy, but can’t find Wolfy.

Super Why: The Adventures of Little Bo Peep and Her Sheep will retail for MSRP of $6.99.  It can be pre-ordered online now via PBS’ online store.  More information on this DVD is available online now along with lots of games, activities, printables and more at:

 

Website: http://pbskids.org/superwhy

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

 

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PBS Announces Release Date For New Fred Rogers Doc

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

Public Media Distribution will release to DVD next month another documentary focused on Fred Rogers and his beloved series Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Mister Rogers: It’s You I Like was released digitally Sept. 3 and is currently scheduled to be released on DVD Oct. 2. The hour-long documentary, which originally aired on PBS and not to be confused with the other Fred Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor, is a retrospective on Fred Rogers and his beloved series.

Veteran actor Michael Keaton (Batman, Baman Returns, SpidermanHomecoming) serves as host for the heartwarming documentary.  It also features interviews from other well-known figures, such as Yo-Yo Ma, John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the SunThe World According to GarpInterstellar), Whoopi Goldberg (The ViewStar TrekThe Next GenerationGhost) and others.

Mr. RogersIt’s You I Like was produced by JoAnn Young (JFKThe Lost Inaugural GalaOscar HammersteinOut of my Dreams) and John Paulson (JFKThe Lost Inaugural GalaA Raising in the Sun Revisited).  Ellen Doherty and Kevin Morrison of Fred Rogers Productions executive produced.

Mr. RogersIt’s You I Like will retail for MSRP of $19.99 and can be pre-ordered now at a reduced price of $14.99 at PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other titles from PBS is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/pbs

 

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PBS to Release New ‘Nature Cat’ DVD Next Month

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids/Public Media Distribution

PBS Kids’ favorite nature loving feline has another brand new DVD on the way.

Nature CatWinter Dance Party is scheduled to be released Oct. 2.  Only the second collection of episodes to be released from the family favorite series, the forthcoming DVD presents four more episodes, all from the young series’ debut season.

The DVD’s title episode opens on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year and the start of winter.  It also means the slow countdown to spring, and Daisy’s family always celebrates the winter solstice with a dance party.  There’s just one problem — Daisy forgot to get ready for the party this year.  There’s a lot to do and not enough time to do it all.  Can Daisy get everything done before her family arrives for its annual celebration?

The winter theme continues in “Ice is Nice.”  This time, Nature Cat and Ronald both lose their hot cocoa when both of their mugs break.  This leads Hal to think a mug breaker is on the loose, but is there really?  Or is it just natural science at work?

In “A Jump To Remember,” the winter theme continues yet again as Nature Cat tries yet again to get in the the Animal Book of World Records.  This time, he tries to set a new record for ski jumping.  The problem is that there’s no snow on which Nature Cat can ski.This leads his friends to come up with their own idea about how to create snow.  Time will tell if the idea works.

“The Groundhog Way,” is one more winter-themed episode included in this DVD.  This story Nature Cat and company want to know if winter will end early or last another six weeks.  The problem is that this year, the groundhog doesn’t even want to come out, but instead wants to sleep in.  That’s because he’s only been right with his prediction five times, making him uncertain about his abilities to forecast.  Now it’s up to Nature Cat and company to save the day, and there’s no telling what that will mean.

Nature CatWinter Dance Party will retail for MSRP of $6.99.  It can be pre-ordered online now via PBS’ online store now.  More information on Nature Cat is available online now along with lots of games, activities, printables and more at:

 

Website: http://www.pbskids.org/naturecat

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

 

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‘Wild Kratts’ Second DVD Of 2018 Is “Twice As Nice” As The Year’s First Offering

Courtesy: PBSPBS Kids/Public Media Distribution

Over the course of the past six years, brother Chris and Martin Kratt have taken families around the world and taught fun and unforgettable lessons in biology, ecology, zoology and more through their hit animated series Wild Kratts.  The series has become one of PBS Kids’ biggest hit series since its debut, running now five seasons and a sixth very likely to be announced soon.  It has also led to the release of now 17 DVDs featuring the adventures of Chris, Martin and their friends Aviva (Athena Krakanis – Manifest, The Expanse, Low Winter Sun), Koki (Heather Bambrick – The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That, Doozers, Atomic Puppet) and Jimmy Z (Jonathan Malen – The Mist, Mean Girls, Charlie Bartlett).  From North America’s desert southwest to the depths of the Atlantic to the frozen far reaches of the Arctic and Antarctic and beyond, the Wild Kratts gang has time and again given audiences unforgettable adventures and invaluable lessons in every episode.  Now thanks to Public Media Distribution, two more of those episodes are available in the latest Wild Kratts DVD, Adventures on the African Savannah.  As that title notes, this time the brothers Kratt and company are in Africa.  The two adventures featured in the 55-minute DVD are enjoyable in themselves.  The lessons connected to the stories are also enjoyable for the whole family.  Considering that content, the DVD’s relatively affordable average price point proves to be money well spent.  When it is considered alongside said content, all three elements make Wild Kratts: Adventures on the African Savannah yet another enjoyable addition to any family’s DVD library.

Adventures on the African Savannah, the second of Public Media Distribution’s Wild Kratts DVD releases so far this year – the first, Madagascar Madness, was released April 10 – is another successful and enjoyable presentation from PMD and PBS Kids.  It is a collection that despite featuring only two episodes, every family will find welcome in their DVD library.  That is actually due in part to the stories themselves.  This time out, Martin and Chris (and their friends) take on a game of tag in the first episode, “The Food Chain Game.”  Of course, this is no ordinary game of tag.  This game involves Chris and Martin racing to the top of the Savannah’s food web by touching and turning into various different animals that roam the savannah.  They start at the bottom and work their way up, all the while learning about each creature’s strengths and weaknesses.  By the time it’s all said and done, Aviva has crafted a giant food web from Chris and Martin’s friendly competition that plays directly into the lessons, which will be discussed shortly.  In the second of the brothers’ adventures, Chris and Martin face off in another competition.  This time it’s a test to see which is the dominant animal – a rhino or an elephant.  However, at least one person wants to ruin the fun.  That person is the Kratt gang’s longtime foe Zack Varmitech (Zachary Bennett – Designated Survivor, Total Drama All Stars, Ranger Rob).  Zach, who is jealous of Aviva’s accomplishments uses his mini-bots to disrupt Chris and Martin’s suits so that they can’t finish their competition.  In an added effort to ruin the group’s fun, his bots also disrupt the Tortuga’s systems, trapping Aviva, Jimmy and Koki inside…at least temporarily.  Obviously the story has a happy ending with Zack being defeated once again.  How that happens won’t be given away here, but it will leave viewers laughing once again.  Of course, this story offers its own subtle biology lesson that adds to the story’s enjoyment.  Said lesson will be discussed along with the biology lesson included in the DVD’s lead story.  Keeping in mind the enjoyment offered through the stories themselves, it creates a solid foundation for the DVD’s presentation.  That foundation gives audiences plenty of reason in itself to add this DVD to their DVD libraries.  The noted lessons tied into the DVD’s presentation give families even more reason to add the DVD to their Wild Kratts collections.

The basic biology lessons incorporated into each story are easily accessible for viewers of all ages.  The lesson incorporated into the lead story is straight forward.  It teaches the interconnection of different organisms within a given food chain.  It’s just one example, but shows in a simple fashion, the depth and diversity that is possible in any given food chain.  At the same time, viewers also learn some interesting facts about the given organisms and animals featured within the given food chain.  What’s really interesting to note here is that the writers don’t try to hide the educational content here, unlike in other episodes in which said content is smartly woven into the story.  It’s right out front.  Yet somehow even with the content being right out there, the writers have still managed to keep the episode interesting both for grown-ups and children alike.  The writing staff is to be highly commended for that.  The lesson is a little bit more subtle in the second story.  It basically highlights the adaptations that make different animals fitted for various climates and territories.  For instance, the walrus is more fitted for cold climes while certain reptiles are definitely not suited for the savannah.  The strengths and weaknesses of the rhino and elephant are both pointed out in the long run, too.  It’s just interesting to see so much incorporated into one story and done so smoothly in the process.  It doesn’t make the educational content so outright, balancing very well with the story itself.    When this is considered along with the balance of educational and entertaining content in the DVD’s lead story, it makes the educational content that much more valuable to the DVD’s presentation.  While the stories and lessons are both key to the DVD’s whole, they are not its only important elements.  The DVD’s rather affordable average price point makes it that much more welcome in any family’s home DVD library.

The average price point of Adventures on the African Savannah is $5.19, not counting taxes.  Adding tax, that price probably rises to almost $6.00 if not barely more than that. Considering the amount of entertainment and education that this DVD offers, even with just two episodes (at 55 minutes), that honestly is a rather affordable price.  It’s money well spent to entertain and educate children while also bringing the whole family together in the process.  That is something of which this country needs more – family togetherness.  That’s especially the case considering how television is in itself ripping families apart more and more because of content aimed at specific audiences.  Keeping all of this in mind, the DVD’s average price point is the proverbial cherry on top for its  presentation.  It is not a bad price to pay, even with tax, for that togetherness, education and entertainment.  To that end, this second Wild Kratts DVD offering this year is another welcome addition to any family’s Wild Kratts DVD collection.

Public Media Distribution’s second Wild Kratts DVD of the year, Adventures on the African Savannah, only boats two episodes from the hit animated series, but despite that, those two episodes offer audiences of all ages plenty to appreciate.  That is evidenced in part through the stories that make up the body of the DVD.  The lessons tied into the stories are expertly balanced in their presentation.  That balance shows the amount of time and thought put into each story’s writing overall.  The writers, again, are to be commended for such attention to detail.  The DVD’s rather affordable price point makes that content extra valuable and the DVD that much more worth the purchase in turn.  Keeping all of this in mind, all three elements join to make this DVD a presentation that will lead the whole family to want to join the Kratt brothers on their African Savannah adventures again and again.  It is available now and can be ordered direct via PBS’ online store.  More information on the DVD is available online along with lots of printables, activities and more now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://pbskids.org/wildkratts

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

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