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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Thomas & Friends: The Christmas Engines is a DVD collection that includes five episodes aired on television in 2014. These stories have been chosen for their holiday/wintertime settings, and have very little suspense or cartoon action. Other than a few trains bumping into each other with no injuries or major damage, there's nothing to scare even the youngest audiences. The tales all have simply-presented, positive messages about teamwork, doing a good job on assigned tasks, friendship, and the values of being useful, cheerful, and generous. Separating the animated installments are four very short sequences, two of which deliver understandable information about trains; one with an adult reading a Thomas story from a book, and, finally, one interactive session that helps with comprehension of the presented material. Best for little kids.
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What's the story?
THOMAS & FRIENDS: THE CHRISTMAS ENGINES includes five short winter stories about the little trains. "Last Train for Christmas" finds the train team in the midst of a very big snowstorm, trying to get passengers from the mainland to their homes on Sodor for Christmas. In "Long Lost Friend" Gator, who has been gone for a very long time, returns excited to see his old friends, especially Percy. But it's no matter how hard the two engines try, they don't seem able to catch up with one another. Duncan is one grumpy train in "Duncan the Humbug." Everything about the cold Christmas season seems to make him unhappy -- too much snow, too many extra jobs. But what happens when one complaining train makes everybody's holiday unpleasant? "Duck in the Water" finds James, the bright red train who thinks he's more splendid than the others, annoyed when he has to help out with flooded tracks. James ONLY likes pulling passenger trains, not freight cars! He learns an important lesson about not always doing what he wants, AND about admitting mistakes. Finally, "The Perfect Gift" tells the story of Percy's concern about Reg, a grappling crane, who must stay in the scrap-yard all the time and doesn't get to participate in the magic of Christmas. Percy is determined to make this holiday special for his friend, and learns some lessons about gift-giving along the way.
Is it any good?
The Island of Sodor is covered by snow; it's holiday time; and this gentle collection brings sweet happy endings, plainspoken messages, and tot-friendly fun with popular, hard-working trains. Young fans of the little steam engine and his companions don't expect clever; they don't expect complexity; they don't expect real scares. So, Thomas & Friends: The Christmas Engines delivers stories with simple plots, distinctive train-characters, and likeable humans who interact with them. A nice, wholesome addition to holiday viewing for the very youngest viewers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the lessons some of the trains learned in Thomas & Friends: The Christmas Engine. What did Duncan find out about how his grumpiness affected the other trains in "Duncan the Humbug"? And what did he find out about not having to be cheerful ALL of the time?
What did both Gator and Percy learn about not jumping to conclusions in "Long Lost Friend"? Why is it important to have all the facts to fully understand a situation?
James, who almost always thinks he's better than the other engines, found out in "Duck in the Water" that everyone sometimes must do a job he or she doesn't like. Think of some things you have to do that you don't always want to do. Why are those tasks important? Do they help you or do they help others? Is it easier when you have a good attitude about the task? Why?
- On DVD or streaming: October 28, 2014
- Cast: Martin Sherman, Kerry Shale, Mark Moraghan
- Directors: Don Spencer, David Stolen
- Studio: HIT Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Book Characters, Friendship, Holidays, Trains
- Character Strengths: Integrity, Teamwork
- Run time: 60 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
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