If you saw my Christmas post, then you know that Cordy likes trains. The hit of the year was her Thomas the Tank Engine Trackmaster train set. It's still set up on our table, although the train is more likely to be found traveling across the living room carpet or trying to move his load of logs through the wall without success.
While she owns several Thomas trains, Cordy has never seen any of the Thomas videos or the TV show. So I was excited when I was asked by PBN to review the newest DVD, Thomas & Friends - Engines & Escapades.
This DVD has several episodes featuring the smaller engines of the Sodor gang. Each episode features a fairly standard script, where one engine finds himself in in a situation that seems promising at first, but then a problem develops. This leads to a solution that involves teaching a lesson about seeing a job through, conquering your fears, helping others, etc.
I am impressed that some of the more complex social issues are tackled - this isn't just about being nice to your friends and sharing. One episode is all about an engine (sorry, I can't keep their names straight) who is left in charge of the others for the first time, and lets the power go to his head. He quickly learns that there is more to being a leader than just telling others what to do. Another episode features an engine who is scared of storms, but learns to be brave and get the job done. Who knew train engines could teach so much about life?
Cordy was very interested in watching the trains, but I found her attention quickly drifted away after only one episode. The pacing of this series feels very different from other children's TV shows. It's slower, with the story unfolding with a lot more narration and a lot less action than your typical children's show. She's used to faster-paced shows, so I think that's why she had a short attention span. As long as we watched the DVD one episode at a time, followed by another activity, she was happy.
And I must admit, I was happy to only watch one at a time, too. The stories all have a good message, but the narration made me want to curl up on the couch for a nap. Plus, hearing "Look, mommy, the train is going in a tunnel! And now up a hill!" does get old after a bit.
Mira, on the other hand, could sit and watch trains with faces roll by on the TV all day long. She squealed and clapped and tried to touch the engines on the screen. With the low amount of action, yet bright colors and interesting faces on the engines, this was the perfect DVD for her.
If your child likes trains, or more specifically Thomas, then Thomas & Friends - Engines & Escapades is a good DVD to pick up. It teaches valuable lessons about doing your best and getting the job done (middle-class work ethic, anyone?), which can be useful to revisit in everyday situations - like asking your child to clean up his or her toys.