Pop some popcorn! These 10 hits top our list for their family appeal and superb entertainment value.
Don't-Miss DVDs, p.1
Baby da Vinci
(Baby Einstein/Disney, $20, ages 6 months to 3 years)
Head, shoulders, knees, toes, and parts in between are on parade in this multilingual (English, French, and Spanish) anatomy lesson that combines puppetry, baby close-ups, and a classical music soundtrack.
Dora the Explorer's Fairytale Adventure
(Nickelodeon/Paramount, $20, ages 2 and up)
In Dora's musical adventure, kids can pretend to tiptoe past the dragon, brush Dora's hair, and help her become a real princess so she can break a spell cast on "Sleeping Boots."
Thomas & Friends: It's Great to Be an Engine!
(HIT Entertainment, $17, ages 2 and up)
Get on board! The little engine with the busy schedule is on the fast track to fun with new story lines -- all still centered on esteem-boosting themes like getting along -- plus three interactive games and sing-along segments.
The Wiggles: Santa's Rockin'!
(HIT Entertainment, $17, ages 3 and up)
This Down Under musical spree combines holiday songs (look for a performance by rocker John Fogerty), an array of Christmas visuals (including a stunning collection of Nativity scenes from around the globe), and kooky original Wiggles tunes and skits in a package that's both reverent and rocking.
Don't-Miss DVDs, p.2
Mary Poppins 40th Anniversary Edition
(Disney, $30, ages 4 and up)
A new animated short movie, the deleted song Chimpanzoo, a sing-along segment, and fun audio commentary from stars Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke prove you can, indeed, improve on a masterpiece.
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears...and More Stories From Africa
(Scholastic Video, $15, ages 4 and up)
A mosquito sets off a chain of jungle mishaps in this James Earl Jones-narrated tale abuzz with West African culture in its drawings and words and an onomatopoeic timbre that builds like a drumbeat.
Mulan Special Edition
(Disney, $30, ages 5 and up)
With a great new song, a child-friendly tour through ancient China, music videos, and tons of documentary shorts, this two-disc set finally gives the modern-day Disney classic about young Mulan's courage the respect it truly deserves.
The Best of Beakman's World
(Columbia TriStar, $10, ages 6 and up)
Fifteen of the most engaging segments from the clever and slightly wacky mid-'90s Emmy Award-winning show bring science home with timeless experiments kids can do using everyday objects.
The Iron Giant Special Edition
(Warner Home Video, $20, ages 7 and up)
Eight new scenes enhance this action-packed, emotionally rich film about the secret friendship that develops between a small-town boy and a wayward giant robot in the 1950s despite the Sputnik-paranoid grown-ups living around them.
Copyright © 2004. Reprinted with permission from Child's 2004 Holiday Shopping Guide.