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Sosa Extols the Merits of Teamwork



Slammin' Sammy: The Sammy Sosa Story. Urban Vision Entertainment. 60 minutes. DVD: $19.95 (VHS: $12.95). Ages 6 to 12.

The story of a poor shoeshine boy from the Dominican Republic who became a major league baseball superstar and a dedicated philanthropist is the subject of this colorful animated video for children, crafted with care to deliver meaningful messages about teamwork, family and community.

Written by Jennie Trias, the tale shows 9-year-old Sammy Sosa working hard to help bring in some money after his father dies; finding his way to baseball (despite his preference for boxing) and working his way from the minor leagues to the majors--twice--before becoming a star player for the Chicago Cubs. To get there, though, Sosa must overcome his cocky, know-it-all attitude and remember his family roots.

Vivid background art, realistic baseball action scenes mixed with some real-life film footage, and sympathetic characters enliven this cut-above biographical cartoon, as does its good heart. Extras include an interview with Sosa and a trivia quiz.


Mickey's House of Villains. Walt Disney Home Entertainment. 70 minutes. DVD: $29.99 (VHS: $22.99). Ages 5 to 11.

The best thing about this minor effort--an early Halloween-themed release--is some of the older Disney cartoon shorts that are interwoven into less interestingly animated and drawn new material. The premise is that all the Disney villains--Cruella De Vil, Captain Hook, Jafar, Maleficent, etc.--attending a Halloween show at Mickey's "House of Mouse" theater, are plotting to take over the place. Several short cartoons later, the coup occurs, but it is short-lived thanks to Mickey, his "Fantasia" wizard's hat and Aladdin's magic lamp.

Extra material includes a "Reel of Misfortune" and "Hidden Villains" games and a collage of scenes from many Disney cartoons with music and sound effects.


Dr. Seuss: The Cat in the Hat. Sony Wonder. 30 minutes. DVD: $12.98. Ages 3 to 6.

Dr. Seuss' classic tale from the original Beginner Book series, with Seuss' illustrations enlivened by unobtrusive, minimal animation, makes for entertaining-true-to-Seuss viewing, but it's no substitute for the book, which was designed for beginning readers. There are no extras, but the release includes a second nicely presented Seuss story, "Maybe You Should Fly a Jet! Maybe You Should Be a Vet!"



Bob the Builder: The Album. Koch Entertainment. CD: $17.98. Ages 3 to 9.

Adults may reach their limit after a few noisily exuberant tracks, but small fans will undoubtedly go wild for these British-flavored pop songs from the smash hit preschooler show about a little construction worker and his pals.

Among the original and adapted songs extolling the joys of tools, heavy machinery, jolly teamwork and friendship is the golden oldie "Crocodile Rock" with Elton John. The enhanced CD includes music video version of the show's theme song, "Can We Fix It?" and a "Bob"-revised "Mambo No. 5."

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