November 2011 – This month’s reviews include a number of DVDs that parents, Sunday school teachers and grandparents can use not only to entertain children, but also to help them learn and to encourage them toward faith in Christ.
Super Simple Science Stuff
Can you have fun and learn at the same time? This is what Super Simple Science Stuff, from TCT Kids, aims to provide. Dr. Quack and his assistant, Dizzy Izzy, tackle various experiments that teach lessons in science about how things work with common household items and a splash of silliness mixed in. Fred, the invisible monkey, adds to the silliness by occasionally wreaking havoc in the lab.
The first of five episodes is titled “Helium,” and some of the experiments Dr. Quack and Izzy perform take them to the moon and under the ocean. The four additional episodes include: “Dry Ice,” “Mad Scientist Day,” “Weather” and “Let’s Make Music.”
At the end of each episode, Dr. Quack reminds viewers that, “Since God created everything, He is the ultimate scientist.”
This video will be instructional and fun for children ages 6-10. Some of the experiments should be done with parental supervision and there are some terms that may need to be explained to younger children.
Hurleyville is a new series from Press On Productions designed to teach and illustrate the Ten Commandments. The town of Hurleyville is turning 100 in the first episode of the series. The children have gathered together to make a video of Hurleyville’s history. They interview each other and “Pops,” young Sam’s grandfather and descendant of the town’s founder. Stories are often told through entertaining flashbacks that teach simple lessons and illustrate biblical truths.
A secondary story involves Hazel, who is deathly afraid of Twangles the clown. Her mom and Pops help Hazel come to grips with her fear of clowns by trusting God.
Episode two begins with two stories playing out simultaneously. In the first one Sam and his friends meet a new neighborhood boy. At first he appears to be sullen and shy. But, as they get to know him, they see him as a bully. The second story begins with Hazel and her friends daydreaming about attending a concert of their favorite singer, Naomi Ramoni. The girls are infatuated with her beauty, her voice and her stardom. Both dilemmas are resolved through scriptural teaching and prayer.
Hurleyville is a series that 8 to 12-year-olds year olds and parents would both enjoy. It has catchy music and typical childhood antics, but the children show great respect for their parents and Pops. The producers suggest that ages 5+ would be appropriate but the younger children may not grasp the lessons or relate to the characters as well.
Produced by Dr. Garth Coonce, Capt’n Chuckleberry is an energetic DVD filled with songs, cartoons, stories and Scripture. The DVD has five chapters, each introduced by Tugboat Bob, the red tugboat. Chapters include: “Making Friends, Being a Friend and Keeping a Friend;” “ABCs and 123s;” “Learning to Have Fun With Others;” “Telling Time;” and “Fun Food for Your Tummy.”
Capt’n Chuckleberry, First Mate Kate, Roscoe the red bird puppet, and Tinkle the worm attempt to teach lessons through lyrically repetitious songs, dances, jokes, stories and Scripture while traveling out to sea on Tugboat Bob.
Capt’n Chuckleberry is unfortunately weak in a number of areas. The target age states 4-11, but older children may find the lessons slow and too juvenile for them. For younger children, some of the points of the lessons are spoken too quickly with little or no explanation and could easily get lost to the viewer. Scriptures are also read at the end of each chapter but have no correlation to the lesson and their meaning is not explained or illustrated.
All ages can enjoy ‘Dolphin Tale’
Sawyer, a young boy, finds a dolphin washed up on the beach, caught in a crab trap. When he frees the injured dolphin, the boy and animal have an instant bond. The injured dolphin is taken to a marine hospital, where she is named Winter. It soon becomes evident that her tail must be amputated.
Dr. Clay Haskett begins trying to save Winter’s life, but she has no will to live. Sawyer goes to the hospital looking for Winter, and there he meets Dr. Haskett’s young daughter, Hazel, and the two kids become increasingly involved in Winter’s recovery.
In a second story line, Dr. Cameron McCarthy is supervising physical therapy for Sawyer’s cousin Kyle after injuries he received in military service. Sawyer persuades McCarthy to meet Winter – and eventually, to craft a prosthetic tail so the dolphin can swim freely again.
Based on a true story, Dolphin Tale is a two-hour, family friendly film that will entertain all ages. It opened in theaters in September. It stars Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman.
“It’s a Hollywood production – not a Christian film,” said AFA president Tim Wildmon. “And we know not all parties involved in the movie would accept Christian morality, but they have produced a great family story.”
Review by Randall Murphree
‘Heaven is for Real’ for kids
Editor’s Note: AFA knows that the theme is considered controversial by some, and some discount all accounts of those who say they visited or had a glimpse of heaven from their deathbeds and then returned to earth. However, parents may well be able to use this book and DVD to help children not to fear death or heaven.
The new children’s book Heaven is for Real: For Kids is based on the New York Times bestseller Heaven is for Real. It is told from the perspective of Colton Burpo, who had emergency surgery at age four for a ruptured appendix, and after recovery told his parents he was taken to heaven.
In this new children’s book Colton describes heaven to children in a way they can understand, with simple descriptions and colorful pictures, created under Colton’s direction. Scripture references are included that correlate with each subject. The goal of this little book is to offer children comfort and assurance that, “Heaven is for Real. And you’re going to like it.”
At the back of the book is a list of questions that children have asked about Colton’s story. If anyone has other questions they can visit www.hifrministries.org.
Thomas Nelson has also produced a Heaven is for Real conversation kit on DVD for use in home Bible Studies, church meetings, groups and families. The kit is a series of topics addressed by Todd, Sonja and Colton Burpo during an interview with Natalie Tysdal from FOX/CW Denver.
Todd Burpo is pastor of Crossroads Wesleyan Church in Imperial, Nebraska. By sharing their son’s experience, they hope to bring assurance to people that they are greatly loved by God and to let people know there is no fear of death through faith in Jesus Christ. Todd described death this way: “As Christians we are not leaving home, but we are going home.” In sharing their story, they hope to share the peace that God has given them.
All reviews by Debbie Fischer except Dolphin Tale