Harold and the Purple Crayon (1960-1974)
Review by HTQ4

Written and Illustrated by Crockett Johnson
Directed by David Piel and Gene Deitch
Narrated by Norman Rose


Released by: Scholastic Video
Rating: NR (appropriate for all audiences)
Region: 1
Anamorphic: N/A ; it appears in its original 1.33:1 format

My Advice: Rent it to make sure your kid is going to like it, then buy it if necessary

Harold has an amazing talent. With his amazing purple crayon (that never needs sharpening), he can create all kinds of new worlds for him to enter. He has many amazing adventures in these very purple worlds, including a moonlight walk, a quest for a superlative work of art, and a garden where an entire fantastic story unfolds.

I'm not going to be too quick to pass judgement, but my usual barometer for these kiddie videos (my eighteen-month-old daughter) became immediately bored with these stories and went to find more interesting things to do. I, on the other hand, loved these little stories. And I do mean little. Each one of the stories couldn't last longer than fifteen minutes at the most, so it doesn't take you any time at all to whiz through all three. Thus, it's a good thing they put the bonus material on the DVD.

There are three more animated short stories included on this disc. The first, "The Mysterious Tadpole," is about a little boy who is given a tadpole by his uncle...only to have it turn out to be an offspring of the Loch Ness Monster which he keeps as a pet. Interestingly enough, the little boy and a friend of his use a sunken pirate treasure and use the money to build a swimming pool for his huge pet. The second, "Drummer Hoff," is about a military regiment lead by a drummer named Hoff. It's a bizarre little poem about the regiment putting together a cannon and firing it, which explodes in a very psychedelic pattern of colors.

Finally, "Smile for Auntie" is about an Auntie who spends the entire short story trying to get her little nephew (niece?) to simply smile. She tries everything from singing a song, to dancing a tap number, to bribing him (her?) with ice cream. In the end, the only thing that will make the little tyke smile is Auntie vowing to leave and never come back. All three of these little stories are very weird and don't seem to work as part of the same DVD package as Harold at all. They're just little animated stories thrown on here to beef up the content a bit. "Smile for Auntie" even borders on being scary to a little kid. Auntie seems to take the whole smiling thing just a little too seriously and personally.

The only other feature on the disc is the option to Read Along with all the stories on the DVD. Really, it's just an English subtitle option on the DVD, but it does provide the service it promises.

The Harold stories are classic pieces of American Children's Television. They are definitely not mainstream, but they are nice to have. You will probably want to rent it first and let your little one try it out before you shell out the money to add it to their collection.

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