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Babar and Father Christmas DVD Review by April Elstrom

Laurent de Brunhoff
eOne Home Video
22 Harbor Park Drive
Port Washington, NY 11050
(516) 484-1000

My seven-year-old son loves the Babar books by Laurent de Brunhoff. Every time we go to the library, he asks to check out another Babar storybook. I was looking forward to sharing this Babar and Father Christmas DVD with him. I hoped that the movie would be as interesting to him as the books are.

When the DVD arrived, we realized that it actually had three animated Babar stories on it, though only the Father Christmas story is based on a Laurent de Brunhoff book. The other two stories, "A Child In The Snow" and "The Gift" are written by other people, with only the characters being borrowed from the original Babar books. Some of my children felt that Brunhoff's 'Babar and Father Christmas' story was the best one on the DVD, but my seven-year-old son actually preferred the second story, "A Child In The Snow".

In "Babar and Father Christmas', Babar's children learn about Father Christmas, who brings gifts to human children at Christmas. They write to him, asking that he also visit Celesteville. When Babar's evil rhinoceros enemy steals the letter, Babar himself sets out on a journey to find Father Christmas. Rataxes the Rhinoceros follows him, intent on stopping him from bringing Father Christmas to Celesteville. Of course, Babar succeeds, and Rataxes fails.

The second story, "A Child In The Snow" finds Babar taking his children back to one of his favorite childhood places, a cabin in the mountains. Babar discovers that some things have changed at the cabin, but his favorite mountain features have not. While there, he finds himself looking for the mythical Great White Mammoth, who had once saved him in a snow storm. Babar refuses to believe it is a mythical creature, and sets out on a journey to find the creature.

The story of "The Gift" finds Babar's children searching for the perfect gift for their mother's birthday, which prompts Babar to tell them of the time he had to find the perfect gift for Madame, and the lessons he learned in the process. I'm not sure if my children just like this story the least, or if it's because it's at the end of two other stories, but it doesn't hold their attention as well as the first two stories.

The DVD is 70 minutes long, and the stories can be selected individually, or played back-to-back. The DVD seems to be recorded well, the sound is clear, and we've had no difficulties with it at all. The animation is the simple style often used to bring picture books to life. However, it is actually animated, as opposed to just displaying drawings as the story is narrated. There are no special features on the DVD, though a small Babar coloring book is included in the case.

The Babar and Father Christmas DVD is a calm movie, perfect for entertaining children with a classic story-telling style. It isn't full of wild animation and action that will wind children up. The stories hold the interest of children ages 3-8 quite well. I like its calm nature, and that I can use it to help settle my children down when they are wound up.

Some families may not care for the focus on Father Christmas/Santa in the first story, or for the abominable-snowman style storyline of the second movie. However, if those aren't issues in your home, this DVD is a great addition to your holiday/winter movie collection for the preschool/early elementary age children in your home.

Product Review by April Elstrom, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February, 2012