________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 6 . . . . November 16, 2001.

cover Best of the Best: Especially for Kids!

Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 1998.
81 min. 36 sec., VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: H9198 113.

Subject Headings:
Animated films.

Childrens films.

Preschool-grade 8 / Ages 4-13.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.


The nine animated pieces in this collection share the distinction of all having been nominated for an Academy Award in the animated short category, with two of them, Every Child and The Sand Castle, actually having won Oscars in 1979 and 1977 respectively. Though the subtitle labels the collection as being "especially for kids," the period of childhood covers a wide age span, and the nine films will not be equally successful with the entire age range. The years of Oscar nomination range from 1963 for Christmas Cracker to 1991 for Blackfly with five of the films receiving their nominations in the Seventies and two in the Eighties. The rationale for the order of the films on the videotape is unclear as they are neither chronologically or thematically ordered.

    Running almost an hour and a half, this videotape is better used over several viewings rather than one long one. Two of the films, The Sand Castle and Monsieur Pointu, while excellent in their use of animation, simply go on too long for a younger audience. The former deals with a Sandman who creates other sand creatures who then build an elaborate sand castle which is eventually eroded by the wind. The latter deals with a violinist whose instrument and himself fly apart. Three other films are likely too sophisticated in their content for all but an adolescent audience. The Owl Who Married
a Goose
is an Inuit tale of a male owl who married a goose that then had goslings. Because the owl was not able to swim, it could not participate in the goslings' being raised, and he also could not be part of their migration. Nevertheless, bound by his love for his family, the owl flies after them, only to drown when he tries to join them on their southern lake. Every Child, which was to represent the UNICEF declaration that "Every child shall be entitled from birth to a name and a nationality," is also demanding of its viewers. The meaning behind the title, Christmas Cracker, remains unclear as it consists of three parts. In the first, a male and female animated character dance to "Jingle Bells". In the middle portion, a number of metal windup toys go through a dance routine while the final portion deals with a cartoon man who is seeking the perfect topping for his Christmas tree.

    The remaining four films should have a wide audience. While Evolution does deal with the concept of evolution, it can just be viewed as a fun piece in which strange creatures evolve and survive because they are the "strongest." Blackfly is an amusing animation which accompanies a folk song created by a man who had to cope with the seemingly endless hordes of little blackflies while he was part of a surveying crew working in northern Ontario. The Cat Came Back will still evoke humour as young viewers repeatedly watch a man unsuccessfully try to rid himself of an unwanted and destructive cat, a quest that continues even after death in a nine fold manner. And more than two
decades after its creation, The Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin will delight young viewers who are familiar with the root story.

Recommended with Reservations.

Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's and adolescent literature in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364