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Zoboomafoo: Play Day at Animal Junction
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this fun-packed PBS video educates about the natural world while nurturing a healthy respect for it. The entertaining format -- which includes games, jokes, and riddles -- makes learning about animals and their habits fun. The playful animals hold toddlers' attention, and help impart messages about proper animal etiquette. The wild pace and mix of live-action, puppetry, and animation are an effective means of entertaining while teaching grammar school kids about the natural world around them. Older kids may have outgrown the Kratt brothers, but many find the animal antics hard to resist.
What's the story?
Baby animals play in different ways, ways that prepare them for their lives as adults. This is the Kratt brothers' focus as Animal Junction is overrun with one type of exotic creature after another. Children learn a bit about the different animal species and what makes them unique, and their knowledge and creative skills are tested with such games as Find the Sheep and animated segments in which an undefined blob gradually takes on the characteristics of a specific animal, prompting kids to guess what it is. Viewers are treated to close-up views of serval kittens (long-legged African wildcats), an elephant whose back gets scratched with a giant novelty toothbrush, ducklings, several monkey species, and lion cubs batting around a soccer ball. Facts about them are dropped in casually here and there without overwhelming, the way kids learn best. There's also a trip to a petting zoo, where llamas show what good kissers they are and where a blindfolded Martin has to identify a sheep from two other animals by feel alone.
Is it any good?
ZOBOOMAFOO: PLAY DAY AT ANIMAL JUNCTION is educational, environmentally conscious, ecologically friendly programming, and the Kratt brothers make it fun. Chris and Martin are something of an acquired taste; they tell corny jokes, they mug and grin at the camera, they fall down in the mud, and their simple, kindly faces make perfect targets for pie-throwing monkeys. And yet you have to hand it to them: They pack an awful lot of great stuff into a 50-minute program.
The show is hyperactive, unstructured, a mishmash of live-action, claymation, puppetry, and cartoon, but those goofy Kratt brothers pull it off with the help of their chatty lemur pal, Zoboomafoo.