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One 90-minute video contains four episodes from The Busy World of Richard Scarry: "Sergeant Murphy's Day Off," "The Best Birthday Present Ever," "The Best Birthday Party Ever," and "Summer Picnic."
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The subject is Busy Town, a delightful place that looks like a cross between an American small town and a Tyrolean village (the late children's author and illustrator Richard Scarry moved from the U.S. to Switzerland at age 50). A kind of whole-cloth world that becomes fully involving and entertaining for young kids, where numerous characters meet up in different combinations for all sorts of adventures, Busy Town comes alive in a series of books by Scarry for toddlers and preschoolers. The excellent batch of videos spinning off from those stories (and going beyond them) have proven to be popular not only with children but with parents, grandparents, and other significant adults in a little viewer's life.
Volume 1 includes the following:
"The Best Birthday Party Ever" is about a scheduling conflict for young pals Kenny and Lynnie, who share a birthday. "Martha's First Book," which takes place in the 15th century, finds little Martha, an illiterate German girl, so desperate to read that she helps create the first printing press. "Locked Out" is a classic misadventure involving the catastrophic Mr. Frumble, a pleasant fellow who simply can't go five minutes without creating a disaster. "The Best Birthday Present Ever" is a sweet and comic piece concerning young Huckle's determination to get his mother the finest gift he can think of for her special day. "Patrick Pig Learns to Talk" takes us out of Busy Town and into a small Irish village, where young Patrick worries his parents by not displaying the stereotypically Irish gift of gab. "Grouchy Mr. Gronkle" finds Busy Town's local Scrooge bellowing at Hilda for her charitable work. In "The Best Summer Picnic," a children's gathering suddenly gets washed out by a storm. "Cucumber the African Photographer" focuses on a shutterbug who has problems during a savannah shoot. "The Big Operation" is meant to teach kids about the hospital and how to be less afraid of what goes on there. The title character tries his darnedest to go on vacation in "Sergeant Murphy's Day Off." "Schmudge the German Chimney Sweep" is a comic farce about a hapless chimney sweep who leaves a horrifying trail of soot everywhere he goes. "Sleeping Car Adventure" is another comedy in which Hilda Hippo turns a simple train ride into anything but a relaxing adventure. --Tom Keogh
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