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Scholastic Video presents
Is Your Mama a Llama?...and more stories about growing up (1989)

"He could read! He could write! He could draw! He ate neatly!"
- Narrator (Mary Beth Hurt), on the title character in Leo the Late Bloomer

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: February 23, 2004

Stars: Amy Madigan, Mary Beth Hurt, Lynn Whitfield, Laura Dern
Director: Virginia Wilkos, Michael Sporn, Melissa Reilly, Daniel Ivanick

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 00h:27m:54s
Release Date: February 24, 2004
UPC: 767685957738
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+B+B- C+

DVD Review

It's some coming-of-age fun from our pals at Scholastic, and once again, they've produced a DVD that's entertaining and edifying for the little people without making their caretakers want to run screaming from the room. (That may not sound like much, but believe me, it puts Scholastic's stuff head and shoulders above almost anybody else's.)

The search for the matriarch is on in the title story (06m:37s), as a baby llama inquires about the maternity of her many friends from other species. The story has a happy ending and an appropriate reunion; it's also full of kid-friendly rhymes, and the narrator, Amy Madigan, waits just long enough to let the kids fill in the blanks.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint, but still, Mother and Father are concerned about Leo the Late Bloomer (06m:55s), a tiger cub being outpaced in development by his pals the snake, the elephant, the bird, and the crocodile. But Leo's mother preaches patience, and she's right; in due time, the rightful roar is back in little Leo.

Many older siblings have been jealous of the new baby in the family, and adopted a special toy to mimic Mom and Dad; but what's unusual about Elizabeti's Doll (08m:01s) is that it's a rock. The rock is named Ava. It's a nice little story narrated by Lynn Whitfield, making sibling rivalry seem safe and fun. But there are some things that make a rock easier than a babyh—no dirty diapers, for instance, and a rock doesn't answer back.

Finally, Laura Dern tells us the tale of a Goose (06m:11s) raised by woodchucks; as you might imagine, this leads to some identity problems. As with the first two stories especially, this one seems well attuned to the issues facing a child who may seem somewhat out of place—imagine what it must be like to be a goose in a family of woodchucks. (The inevitable "black sheep" metaphor doesn't work quite right here.) It's also a warm tale about the safety of family; home is where they have to take you in, even if you can't chuck wood.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: Pretty sharp transfers, with brassy palettes, and only occasional bits of debris.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The sound is generally sharp, though there's a lot of ambient noise in just about all of these stories.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 4 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. bonus story
  2. two stories dubbed into Spanish
Extras Review: The bonus story here is Five Creatures (05m:49s), three of them human, two feline; a little girl takes stock of her house, with her mother, father, and their two cats. Also here you'll find the first two stories dubbed into Spanish (that's >¿Tu mamá es una llama? and Leo, retoño tardío); a trailer for the series of Scholastic releases, and English-language subtitles under the Read Along option.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

Another fine outing from our friends at Scholastic, for which they have the thanks of parents and children alike.


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