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Scholastic Video presents
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly ...and more stories that sing (2002)

"I don't know why she swallowed the fly... perhaps she'll die."
- Narrator (Cyndi Lauper)

Review By: Jeff Rosado   
Published: September 22, 2004

Stars: Cyndi Lauper, Mary Beth Hurt
Other Stars: Crystal Taliefero, Ray Henwood, Raul Malo, Diana Canova
Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 00h:58m:03s
Release Date: June 29, 2004
UPC: 767685961933
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+B+B B

DVD Review

One of the most memorable DVDs I've had the chance to review in recent months was Scholastic's Harold and the Purple Crayon, a delightful compilation of stories featuring Crockett Johnson's beloved character as well as other animated adaptations of equally appealing children's books.

Continuing their excellent ongoing series is their latest release, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, the title selection of which features Simms Taback's whimsical tale of an elderly woman who attempts to counter the effect of an eight-legged pest by gulping up a bigger critter to snack on it. Like rinse, lather, repeat, the process begins anew when the freshest animal inside her stomach fails to turn the trick. And in time, we're talking serious Weight Watchers candidate. Narrated and sung by Cyndi Lauper, one of the most distinctive voices in both music and film, it's a winner from start to finish as the Grammy winner's approach to the story suits it perfectly (complete with an musical encore retelling at double-time tempo).

But enjoyment doesn't end there as two musically themed shorts follow, including Antarctic Antics, an 18-minute film comprised of poems, songs, and stories focusing on a group of lively penguins. From the hatching of a baby to the excitement of gliding on ice and snow, this breezy adaptation of Judy Sierra's book is so entertaining, you can't believe almost 20 minutes of content could go by so quickly; it also features musical aid via members of one of country music's most underrated bands, The Mavericks (Raul Malo and Robert Reynolds).

My favorite among the batch has to be Musical Max, which spins the tale of an instrumentally gifted hippo who believes that practice makes perfect, much to the aural discomfort of his father and animal neighbors (but at least Mom's supportive). I adored the way the variety of instruments were incorporated into the beginning of the story and Mary Beth Hurt's involving narration is wonderful. Max was inspired by the terrific book by author Robert Kraus.

Since the oldest short on this package is only 11 years old, the transfer is uniformly good, although Max has a teeny bit of animation-related scuffiness in its background. Old Lady is particularly razzle-dazzle being the newest of the bunch with its colorful critters juxtaposed against a black background. Save for the most musically intense of the shorts, sound is basically average Dolby stereo with little in the way of directionality or sonic wizardry.

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


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Scholastic Video Teaser
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Three bonus stories are included as extras: Keeping House, a New Zealand recounting the adventures of a devoted nightclub performer whose love for the stage hinders her housekeeping, and Waiting for Wings, a dazzling display of cut-out images that differentiates itself from the rest of the pack courtesy of a nursery rhyme with a groove, thanks to the talented Crystal Taliefero (of Billy Joel's touring band) who sings and provides the danceable musical backing. A Spanish language version of Musical Max and a brief trailer for other Scholastic video offerings completes the extras.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

Better make some extra space for your children's DVD shelf; this is yet another dazzling collection of children's books come to life that's a wonderful addition to any young person's video library.


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