the review site with a difference since 1999
Reviews Interviews Articles Apps About

Scholastic Video presents

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom...and lots more learning fun! (1970-2001)

"Dump it in! / Smash it down! / Drive around the trashy town!"- The singing mice of "Trashy Town" (Diana Canova and David De Vries)

Stars: Crystal Taliefero, Diana Canova, David De Vries, Ruis Woertendyke, Melissa Leebaert
Other Stars: Pete Seeger
Director: Virginia Wilkes, Daniel Ivanick, Gene Deitch

MPAA Rating: Not RatedRun Time: 00h:22m:30s
Release Date: 2002-09-24
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- A-B-B- B+


DVD Review

Scholastic has yoked together a seemingly arbitrary assortment of animated shorts together for this DVD—they're not united by creative personnel or subject matter or even period of production. But that's fine, as what's here is a nice little grab bag of sensible learning and fun.

The title track (04m:49s) kicks things off, a cute little run through the alphabet. The animation is fresh and sharp, with letters dancing all around a coconut tree, as they race to the top. The beat of the music (by Crystal Taliefero, who also performs it) is infectious; it probably won't replace the traditional A-B-C melody in your home, but it's a sweet alternative.

It's garbage day in the second entry, Trashy Town (06m:33s), and I think we all know how much fun that is. Mr. Gilly, our heroic garbageman, empties countless brimming trash cans, and empties all his booty at the town dump. That's about the whole narrative, as a pair of mice serve as the Greek chorus; as with the previous entry, colorful animation and jaunty music make this one a winner, if a dirty one.

Rosie's Walk (03m:56s) follows the hen of the title as she tours the farm, with that crafty fox in pursuit. It's sort of an arts-and-crafts version of the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, and Rosie's escapes suggest that her life is about as charmed as Forrest Gump's. The earliest entry on the disc.

Metamorphosis is the theme of The Caterpillar and the Polliwog (07m:12s), as the former is well aware that the big change to butterfly is coming, but the latter is unaware that great frog things are in the future. It's a bit talkier than the others, and the animation isn't quite as crisp, but it's got its charms, and it's never too early to prepare the little ones for their Ovid.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Quality varies among the shorts, with, unsurprisingly, the newer ones looking crisper and cleaner than the older ones—Rosie's Walk, made in 1970, is a little ragged, in particular. But there's not too much to complain about, as the colors are sharp, and there's little interference.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: As with many children's videos, the treble dominates over the bass, which is too bad on the first two entries especially, as they rely on their percussive lines for much of the dramatic continuity. The music generally sounds fine; there's some hissing, but dynamics are well within acceptable range.

Audio Transfer Grade: B- 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 4 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. three bonus stories
Extras Review: The best part of the extras package is unquestionably the three bonus stories, which are more or less of a piece with the four considered the main program. The Foolish Frog (07m:29s) is a shaggy dog tale sung by Pete Seeger, and may serve as a great introduction to his music for your kids. Joey Runs Away (07m:28s) is about an enterprising little kangaroo in the real estate market, unhappy with his mother's pouch—anybody who's had to hunt for an apartment can relate to this, though the Australian accents may be slightly difficult for the littlest children to puzzle out. Changes, Changes (05m:13s) features a pair of wooden dolls constructing a variety of edifices from multicolored blocks; I especially liked the xylophone score for this one.

The trailer is for the entire Scholastic series, and the English subtitles can be a little difficult to make out, as there's a fair amount of white letters on a white background.

Extras Grade: B+

Final Comments

Good, clean fun with some amiable music, this is a fine assortment of well-made animated shorts for the junior set. Factor in the extras, and it's close to an hour of animation. Recommended for bedtime or a rainy day.

Jon Danziger 2002-10-06