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Ezra Jack Keats' The Little Drummer Boy and Four More Holiday Stories
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Little Drummer Boy, one of four stories included in this Scholastic collection, is about the birth of Jesus. In the story Sam and the Lucky Money, a young Asian-American boy encounters a homeless man in Chinatown while celebrating Chinese New Year with his mother. In Merry Christmas, Space Case, a boy is threatened by two neighborhood bullies. And in The Tomten, the title characters, who look like trolls or gnomes, were considered spirit beings connected to the winter solstice and the pagan celebration of Yuletide.
What's the story?
Just one of four stories in this holiday collection, the version of The Little Drummer Boy on this DVD is really just the traditional song -- "pa rum pa pum pum"-- sung to some beautiful illustrations by John Ezra Keats. The next story is Merry Christmas, Space Case by James Marshall, in which Buddy McGee waits for his friend from outer space, who promised to visit him on Christmas. When the space creature doesn't come, the boy panics because he's already told the intimidating Goober twins about his friend. The next short, Sam and the Lucky Money, a book by Karen Chinn, is a wonderful story about a young Chinese boy who finds compassion for a homeless man he meets in Chinatown. And in The Tomten, a classic Scandinavian folktale, a bearded, gnome-like character goes around in the night whispering encouragement to sleeping animals and children. This set also includes a bonus story, The Twelve Days of Christmas.
Is it any good?
In unison, these distinct, cross-cultural stories make for a well-rounded winter holiday exploration. The Little Drummer Boy it might be the least interesting and engaging to your little ones. The other three stories offer much more.
Christopher Lloyd provides the delightfully manic narration for Merry Christmas, Space Case; the young character in Sam and the Lucky Money expresses truly heartfelt compassion, and The Tomten, updated by Astrid Lindgren (author of Pippi Longstocking), is considered the perfect bedtime story in Northern Europe for good reason.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the different cultures and celebrations presented in these stories. What's familiar to you, and what's different? What do you like about the holidays and traditions your family doesn't celebrate? Families can also discuss who the children meet in the stories and how it changes them. Why does Sam give his money to the homeless man? How does the space creature teach the bullying twins a lesson?
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