Book Review “The Gingerbread Bear” by Robert Dennis

Author: Robert Dennis
Illustrator: Tammie Lyon
Age Range: 3 – 5 years
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Cartwheel Books
Release Date: August 27, 2013

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Run, run, try if you dare, try and catch this Gingerbread Bear! This is a childhood classic told in a new way starring a gingerbread bear. This story takes place in Woodlands National Park and lends itself to a very cute retelling of the story of the Gingerbread Man.

The illustrations are cute, the story is cute and the ending is cute. It’s an enjoyable ride through a national park. Maybe it will be a fun read while teaching about the great outdoors or before going on a camping trip. The repetition will help younger readers stay engaged and enjoying their reading time.

DVD Review "Help!…It's The Hair Bear Bunch!: The Complete Animated Series"

Creators: Hanna-Barbera
Starring: Daws Butler, Paul Winchell, Hal Smith, Joe E. Ross, William Callaway, John Stephenson
Distributed by: Warner Archive
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 328 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I am a big fan of pretty much anything Hanna-Barbera. I have to admit, I guess I am too young but I have never heard of “Help!…It’s The Hair Bear Bunch!”, which dates back to 1971. It only lasted one season and 16 episodes on the air. Even though it may not be Hanna Barbera’s best product, they have appeared in various other programs including Hair Bear’s cameo in “Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law”. There was even a reference in “The Brady Bunch” to the show. After watching all 16 episodes I have to admit, I went to grab the next disc for more episodes. So to me that means that I really enjoyed this show. It is zany, silly and just plain fun. It also features great voice legends like Daws Butler (who takes a page from his Yogi Bear voice), Hal Smith (who was one of the original voices of Winnie the Pooh). I would recommend checking out this DVD.

Official Premise: In the Wonderland Zoo there are the certain bears who stay at home every night and never quarrel or fight, aw, they don’t even bite! So don’t yell “Help! Help!”, it’s the Hair Bear Bunch! Yep – it’s the heppest, savviest and silliest ursines to ever crash out of a zoo, Hair, Square and Bubi Bear. Their bear cave transforms from stone and straw to a swinging, scientific bachelor bear pad at the touch of a button – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Quick-talking Hair (voiced by Daws Butler), befuddling curlicue talker Bubi (voiced by Paul Winchell) and master of the invisible motorcycle, the zen-drawling Square Bear (voiced by William Callaway) are more than a match for their “keepers” Mr. Peevly (voiced by John Stephenson) and Botch (voiced by Joe E. Ross) – with or without the other delightful denizens of Wonderland Zoo, who are always ready to help the Bears in their bigger-than-the-zoo schemes. This two-disc, 16 episode collection contains all the mod bears madcap extra-zoohicular adventures.

This complete series are said to be newly restored but I am not doing back flips with the transfers. They are good but they look like they are still dated from 1971. The colors are a little muted but work enough to enjoy the series. The episodes are presented in full screen 4×3 with an aspect ratio of 1.37:1. This is the first time that this series has been released on DVD, so I am thrilled enough just to see it get some love. Thanks as always to Warner Archive. They are always responsible for pulling out some very unique and rare shows from the vaults and give them a new life. I can’t wait to see what they come up with yet. This release is available on only on WBShop.com and is MOD, which means “Manufactured on Demand”.  So if you are a fan of this show there is no telling how long they will be available so get it now.

Disney’s "Brother Bear" 2-Movie Collection Blu-ray™ Giveaway [ENDED]

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New 3-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack Available for the First Time in a 2-Movie Collection Debuting March 12, 2013

To celebrate the release of Disney’s “Brother Bear” 2-Movie Collection, Media Mikes would like to giveaway 5 copies of the Blu-ray™ Combo Pack (1 Blu-ray™ + 1 DVD). If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of these great prizes, please leave us a comment below or send us an email indicating your favorite character from the film. This giveaway will remain open until March 22nd at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to residents of the United States only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

Two warm and wonderful Disney adventures arrive together for the first time ever in a Blu-ray™ Combo Pack! Families can share the heartwarming and hilarious tale of “Brother Bear” — the 2003 Academy Award® nominee for Best Animated Feature—and “Brother Bear 2” in one incredible 2-Movie Collection. Bring home an entire forest full of fun, complete with digitally restored high definition picture and sound.

After an impulsive boy named Kenai is magically transformed into a bear, he and his little brother bear, Koda, take a courageous (and often hilarious) journey to see the Northern Lights. Experience the excitement of these two fantastic films like never before on Disney Blu-ray™ March 12!

 

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Blu-ray Review "Brother Bear: 2 Movie Collection"

Actors: Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Suarez, Jason Raize, Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas
Directors: Aaron Blaise, Robert Walker
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: March 12, 2013
Run Time: 85 minutes

Brother Bear: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Brother Bear II: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

When I first saw “Brother Bear” in the theaters, I first thought that Disney was slipping quite a bit with their animated films but since it has grown on it. “Brother Bear” is not a perfect film and in fact is one of the last classically animated film from Disney. The film delivered a great message and has quite a bit of heart. The animation still holds up, especially on Blu-ray. The voice cast includes an interesting choice of Joaquin Phoenix and Rick Mornais, in one of his last film roles. So since this film is a two movie collection, we also have the direct-to-video sequel “Brother Bear 2” included. This film screams direct-to-video and really should be considered as a bonus feature here for this release. “Brother Bear” is a the real draw here though and worth the purchase or upgrade alone.

Official Premise: Disney proudly presents two heartwarming and hilarious movies in one incredible collection – Brother Bear, the 2003 Academy Award nominee for best animated feature, and Brother Bear 2 – together for the first time on Blu-ray. Bring home an entire forest full of fun, complete with digitally restored high definition picture and sound. After an impulsive boy named Kenai is magically transformed into a bear, he and his little brother bear, Koda, take a courageous (and often hilarious) journey to see the Northern Lights. Experience the excitement of these two fantastic films like never before on Disney Blu-ray!

Even though these films aren’t Disney classics per se, they are still decent film and look amazing on Blu-ray. “Brother Bear” looks stunning with its 1080p transfer presented with its aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with black bars at the top and bottom. The colors are beautiful, sharp and really pop off the screen. Believe it or not “Brother Bear 2” is also very impressive as well. Even though it is direct-to-video quality Disney cleaned this film up for this Blu-ray quite well. Next up is the audio, “Brother Bear” delivers a great DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, which works well with the action, the dialogue, the score and of course Phil Collins’ songs. Again “Brother Bear 2” also delivers with it’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. For what it is worth, the track works with what what the film has going for it.

Next up are the special features, which are just ports of previous DVD releases. They are decent but in terms of taking the extra effort, it is a letdown. “Brother Bear” starts off with an audio commentary track with the film’s characters Rutt and Tuke (voiced by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas), the film’s Canadian Moose duo. If you are a die-hard fan, I highly recommend this as it is a riot. “Paths of Discovery: The Making of Brother Bear” is a four-part documentary focusing on the cast, story, production and score. There are three deleted scenes with an introduction from directors Aaron Blaise and Robert Walker, as well an Never-Before-Heard Song (except on the last DVD release) called “Fishing Song”. “Art Review” takes us with Art director Robh Ruppel and supervising animator Byron Howard as they discuss…art from the film.

“Bear Legends” is a very short series of Native American tales. There is the song “Transformation” with its original Phil Collins lyrics, as well as a Sing-Along Song for “On My Way” and a Music Video for “Look Through My Eyes” by Phil Collins. “Koda’s Outtakes” are in character and are quite funny, taking a page from “Toy Story”. “Making Noise: The Art of Foley” is a non-technical look at sound design for kids. Wondering about “Brother Bear 2” extras? The only extra is “Behind the Music” with Producers Jim Ballantine and Susan Kirch, director Ben Gluck and others talking about the films tunes.

“Brother Bear” is not the only animation classic being released on high-def Blu-ray. March 12th will also bring the release of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1 & 2″, “Mulan 1 & 2″ and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Of course like Disney is smart to release their films like that ”Mulan”, ”Brother Bear” and “Hunchback” with their direct-to-video sequels because otherwise I do not think that anyone would be interested in owning them. So I look at these direct-to-video sequels as a bonus feature really. I am not sure how “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” fits into this trend but that is one release that I am highly anticipating.

 

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Book Review "Bizzy Bear: Fire Rescue! & Pirate Adventure"

Author: Nosy Crow
Illustrator: Benji Davie
Board book: 8 pages
Publisher: Nosy Crow
Release Date: February 12, 2013

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

When it comes to Nosy Crow, I do not even think twice before picking it up.  I have grown to love these books.  I am new to the “Bizzy Bear” series but I think I have found a new favorite.  This book is also extremely interactive for kids.  My eight month old daughter had a blast not only listening to me reading it but also playing with it.  The book is jam-packed with interactive aspects like pulling and sliding.  It really takes the act of reading a book to a whole new level.  I highly recommend this.

Fire Rescue!: With chunky sliders to push and pull, this robust little board book is perfect for activetoddlers. Rich in visual detail and with touches of humor, it is sure to become a classic in the family library. Bizzy Bear is lending a hand at the fire station when he receives an emergency call summoning the team’s help. Join the fire fighters as they race to the rescue in this action-packed story for the very young!

Pirate Adventure: With chunky sliders to push and pull, this robust little board book is perfect for active toddlers. Rich in visual detail and with touches of humor, it is sure to become a classic in the family library. Today, Bizzy Bear is packing his ship, hoisting the Jolly Roger and setting sail on an exciting pirate adventure! Little readers will love helping Bizzy steer his ship, dig for treasure, and open the treasure chest.

Benji Davies has a wonderful vision and has provided some really fantastic illustrations. They are very colorful and easy-catching. He has worked on other volumes from the “Bizzy Bear” series. The only thing I wish is that it was longer than eight pages. Still though in those eight pages, it is very entertaining enough for maybe repeat readings. I also look forward to further installments in this series and also future books from Nosy Crow. Count me in!

Book Review “Bear in Love”

Author: Daniel Pinkwater
Illustrator: Will Hillenbrand
Reading level: Ages 2 and up
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Candlewick
Release Date: August 14, 2012

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Bear in Love” could have been a cute title to release around Valentine’s Day. Our friendly bear finds that he might have a secret friend that is leaving him surprises. The story is very sweet and funny as well, thanks to the notable authro Daniel Pinkwater. Will Hillenbrand’s subtle yet effective illustrations really deliver. I will be highly recommend this book to all the family’s I know, since it is a must have!

Premise: “One morning, the bear finds something just outside his cave. It is orange and long and pointy and has bushy green leaves at one end. And it’s sweet and crunchy! Where did it come from? Did someone leave it for him? Then there are two more of the sweet crunchy things the next morning! The bear knows that someone nice is leaving him these treats. If only he could discover who it is! Should he leave something tasty in return?”

I hope that this is the first in a series of books with Bear, hint hint Daniel! I feel that he is a alternative to Disney’s Pooh and just as cute. I will be keeping an eye out for more of Hillenbrand’s illustrations since I was a big fan. I could see some of the drawnings blown up and frame even! Candlewick delivers yet another fantastic children’s book and thanks to them to reference “Jaws”, my daughter is going to need a bigger book shelf.

Book Review “Birthday for Bear”

Author: Bonny Becker
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Walker Childrens Hardbacks
Release Date: December 6, 2012

Our Score: 3.5 of 5 stars

This is the latest installment of the Bear and Mouse series. Bonny Becker is the author of all four books including “A Visitor for Bear”, “A Bedtime for Bear” and “The Sniffles for Bear”. I recently reviewed “A Visitor for Bear” and now I will be tracking down the other two as well, since this is a must have series. Beuatiful illustrations again from Kady MacDonald Denton, who has worked on the other books in the series.

Premise: “Celebrate curmudgeonly Bear and the irrepressible Mouse in this laugh-out-loud companion to the much-loved “A Visitor for Bear”, “A Bedtime for Bear” and “The Sniffles for Bear”. Bear does not like birthdays. He doesn’t like parties or balloons, cards or candles. In fact, Bear does not like anything to do with birthdays at all. He would much rather spend his birthday alone cleaning his house, but Mouse, small and grey and bright-eyed, has other ideas. With a perfectly paced story by Bonny Becker paired with Kady MacDonald Denton’s slapstick visual comedy, “A Birthday for Bear” welcomes young listeners to the party in a new Bear and Mouse picture book ideal for sharing. It is another laugh-out-loud funny picture book starring the hilariously mismatched friends Bear and Mouse. It is a witty tale of a reluctant birthday celebrant with all the slapstick humour and repartee that readers of Bear and Mouse’s escapades have come to expect.”

Like the past installments, this books have such terrific humor and deliver for both the kids and the parents (if you are reading to them). I see my daughter enjoying these books very much and I look forward to future installments and collaborations from both Bonny Becker and Kady MacDonald Denton. Another score for Candlewick! This book is a perfect birthday gift for any young child or even a grown-up like myself.

Book Review “A Visitor for Bear”

Author: Bonny Becker
Illustrator: Kady MacDonald Denton
Reading level: Ages 2 and up
Hardcover: 56 pages
Publisher: Candlewick
Release Date: August 14, 2012

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“A Visitor for Bear” is anew installment in the Bear and Mouse series. This book is also the winner of the E.B. White Read Aloud Award. I just loved reading this book and I have a feeling it will become a must-read each night. The illustrations are very attractive, thank you Kady MacDonald Denton, and literally pop off the page. The book is even quite funny and entertains the kids for sure and keeps the parents smiling.

Bonny Becker has said that the little persistent mouse in this book popped into her head one day and wouldn’t go away. So that is where “A Visitor for Bear” was born. Bonny is also the author of many other award-winning books and several other Bear and Mouse stories. I look forward to see future installments in this series, as well from Bonny overall.

Premise: “Bear is quite sure he doesn’t like visitors. He even has a sign. So when a mouse taps on his door one day, Bear tells him to leave. But when Bear goes to the cupboard to get a bowl, there is the mouse — small and gray and bright-eyed. In this slapstick tale that begs to be read aloud, all Bear wants is to eat his breakfast in peace, but the mouse — who keeps popping up in the most unexpected places — just won’t go away!”