Baby Einstein Collection (1999)
Review by HTQ4

Created by Julie Aigner-Clark

Anamorphic: N/A; appear in their original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Own them (if you have a child...)

This collection of "Digital Board Books" has to be one of the best child development tools to come about in a long time.  Covering everything from language (not just English), art, poetry, music, shapes, and animals--this set has it all so that parents can take an active role in the educational development of their child from a very early age.  Filled with shapes, sounds, puppets, and even the smiling faces of other children, each DVD keeps a child's attention longer than conventional children's entertainment.  They are recommended for children between the ages of one and three, but I play them for my two month old all the time.  Sometimes they are the only things that seem to make her happy!

Baby Einstein and Baby Shakespeare cover language.  In Einstein, Ms. Aigner-Clark has taken something as simple as our ABCs and 123s and presented them in several different languages.  The sights and sounds keep children interested, while the "narration" repeats the lesson again and again.  Or, you can go to the Concert Hall where you can use the digital flash cards to help your child learn these multilingual letters and numbers.  Shakespeare covers poetry and the beauty of language.  Or, you can step into the Concert Hall on this disc and choose between two different Beehoven concerts; one for bedtime or one for playtime. 

Baby Mozart and Baby Bach focus on music, but also contain some language emphasis as well.  In the Theatre section of these DVDs, the focus in not only on the music, but the musical instruments.  There is also a Concert Hall similar to that of the Shakespeare disc, with the emphasis on the music of either Mozart or Bach.  Concerts "for little ears" are available for bedtime or playtime usage.

Baby Newton and Baby Van Gogh cover shapes and colors respectively.  Not only do children learn about what the different shapes are called, they also learn how to "see" them in everyday life through each "vignette" of the feature.  The Music section of Newton gives parents access to selected concertos by Vivaldi where Van Gogh sports an interactive art gallery.  Also, each of the videos is "hosted" by a special puppet.  The "Vincent Van Goat" puppet has his ear bandaged back on.  I thought this was a nice touch.

There are also two Baby Doolittle DVDs:  Neighborhood Animals and World Animals.  In each of these DVDs, children are exposed to different animals of the world through stock footage, animal noises, puppet shows and sing-a-longs.  You also have the option to play the soundtrack portion of the DVD if you desire (focusing on the music presented on the DVD without the animal content).  These DVDs also have the interactive flashcards that you can go through with your child.  You can either "learn" the animals or "guess" the animals; learning meaning each animal is presented in two slides one with out the name, the next with the name in text and spoken so parents can help their children learn the names.

Baby Santa's Music Box kind of stands by itself in this set.  It celebrates the sights and sounds of the holiday season.  Like the Baby Doolittle DVDs, it is a collection of season-specific images, sounds and songs.  You also have the option to play just the audio portion of the DVD, giving parents the ability to have this soundtrack playing while decorating their home for the holidays.

The DVDs have some similarities and some minor differences.  One thing they have in common is you can opt to just play a selection once, or you can have it repeat indefinitely.  This will keep you from running over to the player and restarting it when you child starts crying to see more.  This is much better than having to rewind a VHS tape when you reach the end.  While each of the DVDs places emphasis on certain composers or even art forms, none of them stop teaching language.  Contained within each DVD is a tutorial system to help your child develop strong language skills.  They are designed to be watched in any order without breaking up the learning cycle.  In other words, the entire set is not one large "curriculum." 

Perhaps most importantly of all, these DVDs are not designed to be a "babysitter," although, I'm sorry to say, it could be very easy to allow them to become so.  Instead, with the availability of all they offer in their Baby Einstein store, parents can purchase whatever tools they deem necessary to get involved with their child's development.  In fact, parents are encouraged to watch these DVDs with their children and take an active role in helping them to "interact" with what they are seeing on the screen...with or without the extra stuff that's available.

So, not much content here for the average DVDphile, but for parents, these DVDs are a wonderful addition to the collection.

Buy Baby Einstein from Amazon!
Buy Baby Shakespeare from Amazon!
Buy Baby Mozart from Amazon!
Buy Baby Bach from Amazon!
Buy Baby Van Gogh from Amazon!
Buy Baby Doolittle Neighborhood Animals from Amazon!
Buy Baby Doolittle World Animals from Amazon!

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