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WITH THE KIDS | KIDS' CORNER

Magic in friendship

Breathtaking visuals, tender touches give `Laura's Star' a special glow.

September 28, 2006|Lynne Heffley | Times Staff Writer

Laura's Star

Warner Home Video

DVD: $14.98

For the family

www.amazon.com

Based on a children's book by Klaus Baumgart, this animated enchantment from Germany is about a little girl who patches up an injured little shooting star and finds that she has made a magical friend. With a lovely orchestral score and gorgeous outdoor and indoor shots burnished by stardust glow, the film, a fluid mix of 2-D cel and 3-D computer animation, has the kind of tenderness and breathtaking visual beauty characteristic of Japan's animation master Hayao Miyazaki, creator of "My Neighbor Totoro." The English dubbing fits like a glove.

*

Monkeydoos, Things That Go

Mazzarella Media

DVD: $14.95

Ages 2 to 8

(800) 477-7811

www.bigkidsvideo.com

Clear the floor: An appealing young host, real kids, some 3-D animation and playful get-off-the-couch activities make exercise a blast. Viewers can swing and sway, jump and wiggle, hop and bounce to "Pogo Stick," "My Canoe," "Jet Plane" and other easy-to-follow movement-oriented songs with a vehicular theme. Extras include a recipe for a healthy snack and a craft for making a paper helicopter.

Jamarama Live! Kidsfest

Goldhil Entertainment

DVD: $14.98

Ages 2 to 7

www.amazon.com

Live children's concerts don't always translate into TV entertainment. Jamarama is the recent new thing in traveling kids music shows, with a changing bill of local and national children's favorites. Here it's the high-profile Laurie Berkner Band, the Milkshake duo and the yoga-themed Ohmies, working a crowd of little fans with their signature sing-along, move-along music and banter. Watching it through the remove of the TV screen, though, the energy is considerably diluted and everyone seems to be working just a bit too hard on stage.

*

Baby's Stroll Through Nature

and Wheel Time Express

Baby Wonder Years

DVD: $14.95 each

"Baby's Stroll," 6 months to 3 years

"Wheel Time," ages 2 to 5

www.babywonderyears.com

Mellow music and real-life video footage: not an original formula for baby edutainment. But these two releases are worthy entries in the field, thanks to their simplicity and the colorful clarity of the well-chosen imagery. The first quietly focuses on hummingbirds and dragonflies, ocean waves and waterfalls, birds and flowers; the second on bus, bike, tractor, car and train wheels; Ferris wheels, a potter's wheel, wind and water mills.

Popular Mechanics

for Kids: Lightning and

Other Forces of Nature

Koch Vision

DVD: $14.98

Ages 6 to 14

www.kochvision.com

Make a tornado in a box. Learn the principles of igloo-building, the nuts and bolts of an oil spill cleanup, and the science behind volcanoes, twisters and electricity. Check out "Ice," "Water," "Earth Power" and "Electricity" with perky and intrepid young teen hosts in this entertaining new release from the fast-paced, chock-full-o'-learning science series.

Charlie and Lola, Vol. 1

BBC Video

DVD: $14.98;

Vols. 1 and 2, $24.98

Ages 4 to 6

(800) 216-1BBC

www.bbcamericashop.com

Lauren Child's children's books about the everyday -- but quirky -- happenings in the lives of caring big brother Charlie and his "small and very funny" little sister Lola come with a British accent, gentle family-affirming charm and imaginative animation that re-creates Child's illustrations, using photographs, cutouts and fabric designs. Among the six episodes here: "I'm Just Not Keen on Spiders" and "I'm Really Ever So Not Well." DVD extras include surprise jigsaw puzzles.

Bright Spaces 2

Bright Horizons Foundation

for Children

CD: $15

(800) 729-9050www.brighthorizons.com/foundation/

Dan Zanes has risen to the top of the children's music field with his happy "handmade" sound, inspired by a belief that listening to and making music together can bring families closer and make the world a better place. Zanes has compiled this quirky collection of playful and heart-filled folk, world and novelty songs with the cozy warmth of a neighborhood sing-along. Among the selections: Woody Guthrie's "Dance Around," Jerry Garcia and David Grisman's "Hopalong Peter," Craig Taubman's "L'cha Dodi" and Zanes' "Jump Up." All net proceeds go to the Bright Horizons Foundation for the benefit of children and families in crisis.

Dan Crow: The Giggling Dragon

Allshouse Family Entertainment

CD: $15

Ages 4 to 9

www.dancrow.com

With all the hot new entries in the children's music field, it might be easy to overlook those who have been doing it well as a calling all along. Dan Crow exercises his gift for humor, exuberant word-play and sing-along tunes here to celebrate make-believe with a comic wink. Jolly "Jack the Giant" needs to watch his step; trolls need an attitude adjustment and imagination is a "special present to us all."

Peter Pan

Listening Library

5 CDs: $29.95

All ages

www.listeninglibrary.com

J.M. Barrie's landmark children's book as written is a somewhat different experience from its nostalgic Disney treatment. It's a mite darker, with a treasure trove of small, wry and comic observed moments before, during and after Neverland. And there's none better than British actor Jim Dale, whose reading of the "Harry Potter" books is nothing short of a tour de force, to bring to vivid life Barrie's fantastical world of pirates, lost boys, mermaids and fairies.

lynne.heffley@latimes.com

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