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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie includes valuable lessons from the comical mistakes of characters such as Curious George and Morris the Moose, including how to count and why one shouldn't eat too many cookies. Early grade schoolers will love these funny adventures as much as their nostalgic parents. There's some emotional intensity here, however, as Curious George starts out his adventures by being taken from his home in the jungle. The rest of the video is happy-go-lucky, though.
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What's the story?
This collection of stop-motion animated stories kicks off with Curious George, who is taken from the jungle by the Man with the Yellow Hat. In the big city, George can't resist the many temptations swirling about him. He smokes the man's pipe and gets sick. He grabs a bunch of balloons and is carried high above the city. He eats a piece from a jigsaw puzzle and has to go to the hospital. But it's clear that George isn't bad -- just curious. Next: Frog and Toad have a string of short adventures in which they learn the value of patience, willpower, and true friendship. There is a brief demonstration of how the stop-motion animation is produced, which shows how the characters are given mobility and expression. Finally, we meet Morris the Moose, who learns the ropes on his first day of school.
Is it any good?
The stop-motion animated characters in CURIOUS GEORGE AND HIS FRIENDS are amazingly true to the storybook characters that inspired them. George and the Man in the Yellow Hat look like they've jumped right from the pages, and their voices are just as we imagined them. As described in H.A. Rey's books, their world is spare and colorful, and full of enticing objects, such as telephones and wheelchairs, ripe for George's mischief.
When we see the depiction of Frog and Toad, we begin to understand how talented this animator is. Their world is filled with fairy tale flowers, trees, mushrooms, and enchanting little houses, and Frog and Toad are given personalities made distinct by their appearances and actions. Older kids will be engaged by the section in which the director explains his fascinating animation techniques. He explains how, using the illustrations in the Frog and Toad books, he tried to create a "real little world -- one different from ours, one that a child would love to live in." Mission accomplished.
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