DVD Review: Adventures in Booga-Booga Land

You never know what you’re going to get with kids videos. Sometimes they surprise you; they’re packed with great content and have terrific production quality. Sometimes they’re okay, but forgettable. And then there are the ones that are an absolute train wreck—mind-numbingly painful to watch and just awful, awful production values.

(I’m not sure if that’s the best opening for a review, but there you have it.)

Recently I received a copy of Adventures in Booga Booga Land, distributed by Tommy Nelson (Thomas Nelson’s children’s product division). Based on Richard Milner’s children’s book, the DVD features three stories that serve as retellings of Jesus’ parables & teaching: The workers in the Vineyard from Matt 20:1-16, The Wise & Foolish Builders from Matt. 7:24-27 and The Lamp under the Bowl from Matt. 5:14-16.

So, how did it fare? Well…

The stories on the DVD really only serve as a lead-in for parents to have a discussion of the biblical teaching. This can be a good and bad thing. On the one hand, it’s great to have something to call your kids back to as in, “remember when Marty and Gerard got all huffy because their boss paid people who started working at the end of the day the same wage as them? Well, let’s take a look at that story in the Bible…” So in that sense, it’s a helpful learning aid. On the other hand, if you don’t always have time to do a full lesson with your kids and need something that has a more “complete” message, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

Another concern that came up was that the stories themselves are surprisingly violent; my daughter was very confused and concerned when Marty the Monkey and the Schwarzenegger-styled adult education teacher were fighting in the grocery store. Additionally, the attempts to recall fond memories of classic Looney Toons shorts fall flat; it just doesn’t work.

The production quality of the cartoons is terrible. My wife commented that it looks like it might have been done by the same people who made “Toopy and Binoo” (one of the strangest kids shows we’ve ever seen). Truthfully, it reminded me a bit of a bad Flash video.

The final thing I have to comment on is the voiceover work. The voices just grated on us adults. Gerard reminded my wife of Canadian author and radio personality Stuart McLean (it wasn’t, we checked). And the pseudo-Canadian bus driver… Really? We’re still doing that? (There’s another level of irony to this in that the government of Ontario receives a credit for playing a role in the production of the video.)

All that to say, while this certainly wasn’t the worst kids video I’ve seen and I greatly appreciate the intent, Adventures in Booga Booga Land is not something that will be a fixture in our home and I wouldn’t recommend it become on in your’s either.

A complimentary copy of this DVD was provided through Thomas Nelson’s Booksneeze Program

DVD Review – Read and Share: The Jesus Series, Life and Miracles

Title: Read and Share: The Jesus Series, Life and Miracles
Publisher: Tommy Nelson (Thomas Nelson Kids)

Good quality children’s videos are hard to find, and I’m not just talking about faith-based ones. As a picky parent, it’s really important to me to have video content that I’m comfortable with for my daughters. So I was intrigued when I received a copy of Read and Share: The Jesus Series, Life and Miracles.

Based on Gwen Ellis’ Read and Share Bible, this 30-minute video takes viewers on a very fast overview of Jesus’ three year ministry. I found that, overall, the stories were handled well, particularly the feeding of the five thousand and the last supper. Given the amount of content they covered in a short amount of time, this is an astonishing feat.

There were, however, a few things that didn’t sit quite right with me. Many are simply preference, but a significant one (to me) was the assertion that Jesus “found twelve good men” to be His disciples. While I understand that they need to keep the stories age-appropriate, and a lengthy discussion about the sinfulness of mankind might be more than the average three-year-old can handle, it’s something for parents to be aware of so they can discuss.

The art style, taken directly from the Read and Share Bible, is very cute and eye-catching. That said, I think it’s a style that is better served by a 2-D approach (rather than CGI).

Finally—and I know this is probably a niggling thing—but all the characters are very, very Caucasian. At this point, I suspect we all realize that Jesus wasn’t white (given that He was born in the Middle East), so why do we still depict Him as such in our children’s products?

So that about covers the grown-up perspective. Now for the most important question:

What was my daughter’s reaction?

We sat down to watch the video during lunch and her eyes were glued to the screen. Her attention was fixed on the story (a miracle in itself since she’s three!), and when it was over, she asked, “Can we watch it again?”

We ended up watching this video four or five times in one day, and it’s still one of her most frequent requests.

Overall, I was satisfied with Read and Share: The Jesus Series, Life and Miracles. If I had to choose between (most) VeggieTales selections and this, Life and Miracles wins hands down.

A complimentary copy of this DVD was provided for review through Thomas Nelson’s Booksneeze program