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Scholastic Video presents
Chrysanthemum ...and more Kevin Henkes stories (1995-98)

"My name is too long. It scarcely fits on my name tag, and I'm named after a FLOWER!"
- Chrysanthemum (Meryl Streep)

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: October 15, 2002

Stars: Meryl Streep, Sarah Jessica Parker, Mary Beth Hurt
Director: Virginia Wilkos, Don Duga & Irra

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 00h:32m:29s
Release Date: September 24, 2002
UPC: 767685951835
Genre: animation

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

DVD Review

Three children's books by the redoubtable Kevin Henkes are nicely animated on the main program of this Scholastic release—if you or your kids are afraid of mice, this might not be the best selection for you, but otherwise, the star wattage is powerful, and the tales are genial ones.

Meryl Streep provides the narration and all the voices for the title story (14:00), about a little girl named Chrysanthemum—her parents are taken with her perfect name, and initially so is she, but the other kids at school think that it's too long, too weird, and just plain goofy. Mrs. Twinkle, the music teacher, gives little Chrysanthemum a boost, and soon her classmates change their tune. One of the great pleasures of this story is Streep's vocal performance, providing a dozen or so perfect little characterizations. It may make you hypercritical of your own reading of bedtime stories, though, so beware.

Have the little ones come up with the bright idea that they should stay up late and watch Sex and the City? Perhaps you can mollify them instead with Owen (08m:45s), narrated by Carrie Bradshaw her own self, Sarah Jessica Parker. Owen is a little fellow who simply cannot let go of his special yellow blanket, despite Mom and Dad's best efforts. An appropriate solution is found, and Parker does a fine job, though she suffers in comparison to Streep. (Then again, who wouldn't?)

The title character is the houseguest from hell in A Weekend With Wendell (09m:44s), with Mary Beth Hurt handling the narrative chores this time out. Little Sophie is more or less terrorized in her own home by Wendell, an impossibly self-involved little mouse. Things end well, but Wendell is such a pain that I must say that I'm a bit disappointed that he didn't get more of a comeuppance; Sophie is a far more charitable host than I or most anyone I know would be under these circumstances.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: Colors are generally sharp, though the reds and yellows are a little spotty and inconsistent; the palette isn't as sharp as it might be. But the animation seems to be in relatively good condition, and there's little debris evident in the transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The top of the register sounds a little tinny and squeaky, which is unfortunate, especially when you're dealing with mice. Dynamics are adequate, and the narration tracks are easily understandable.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 3 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 three bonus stories aren't part of the Henkes oeuvre, but they each have their own rewards. Picnic (12m:41s), told without dialogue, is the tale of a little mouse who bounces off the truck as her family is on its way to a springtime outing—the terrors of the wild haunt her, as the other mice do battle with the ants looking to get to what's in those picnic baskets. The title character in Monty (06m:54s) is an alligator who doubles as a school bus—what ever will the schoolchildren do when Monty decides it's time for an alligator vacation? (It's also the only story on the disc not to feature animated rodents.) The Wizard (07m:11s) has something of an O. Henry feel, as the ineffectual Merlin wannabe helps a mouse unhappy with his lot in life restore his self-esteem, ironically by deciding against consuming one of the wizard's magic, transformative potions.

English subtitles and a trailer for the Scholastic video release series round out the extras.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

The three Henkes stories are the best, but the bonus stories make nice additions, too—all in all, a fine little entry in the Scholastic series.


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