DVD Review: Scholastic Storybook Treasures, “The Halloween Stories Collection”

Scholastic Storybook Treasures: The Halloween Stories Collection (Weston Woods/NewVideo, 2010)

They’ve put together so many collections that I can’t believe they still have any new ones left to release, but if there’s a series that deserves infinite installments, it’s Scholastic Storybook Treasures — and there they go again, with a three-hour-plus bundle of 18 creepy (not really), crawly (maybe a little) stories celebrating the Halloween season. Perfect for teachers looking for a classroom treat, parents of trick-or-treating youngsters, or kids who get a kick out of seeing their favorite books come to (occasionally somewhat limited) life onscreen, The Halloween Stories Collection is good, clean seasonal fun — and at under $12.50 at Amazon, it’s priced to sell, too.

Synopsis: 18 not-so-scary stories in a 3 DVD collection. From the kid-friendly Halloween stories A Very Brave Witch and By the Light of the Halloween Moon, to family favorites The Teacher From the Black Lagoon and Where the Wild Things Are, kids and parents delight watching their favorite books spring to life on DVD.

Where the Wild Things Are
In the Night Kitchen
Alligators All Around
One Was Johnny
Chicken Soup with Rice
A Very Brave Witch
By the Light of the Halloween Moon
A Dark, Dark Tale
The Witch in the Cherry Tree
The Three-Legged Cat
The Three Robbers
Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain

Video: If you’ve ever watched one of the Scholastic Storybook Treasures collections, you know the video quality is all over the place; the original release dates of these segments, like the books they’ve been adapted from, vary widely, and whether you’re watching an animated clip or a glorified slideshow has a lot to do with whether it was made in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, or later. In any case, the production values overall are pretty homey, but nobody watches these for visual thrills.

Audio: The same standard applies to the clips’ soundtracks — this is the kind of stuff that sounds perfectly acceptable on your TV, but nothing you’re going to want to bother piping through a state-of-the-art home theater system.

Special Features: As tends to be the case with these collections, Scholastic has bundled in a small smattering of bonus content, including the following features: Getting to Know Maurice Sendak; a Spanish and French versions of Where the Wild Things Are;  interviews with author Mike Thaler and illustrator Jared Lee; the Read-Along feature, which overlays karaoke-style text along with the narration; and “Talk About the Stories” segments.

Bottom Line: They certainly don’t have the visual pizazz that your kids get from Pixar productions (or even your average episode of The Wonder Pets), but the Storybook Treasures collections all have a certain homespun charm, and Halloween Stories is no different. My kids watch all the fancy kids’ Blu-rays that come into the house, but they still love Scholastic DVDs, and it’s easy to see why — the story’s the thing, and these are wonderful, timeless books. No amount of computer-generated fairy dust can match that.