This review originally appeared on the now-defunct site FamilyWonder.com, which showcased children's entertainment for parents and caregivers.
Title: Berenstain Bears Vol. 7: Making Friends Everywhere
Running Time: 35 minutes
The Berenstain Bears have "Trouble With Friends" in all three episodes of this collection. In the first, Sister's pleasure when a girl her own age moves nearby fades when her new friend won't stop showing off. Mama has to point out that having friends sometimes means making compromises.
In "Ring the Bell," Brother brags to Too Tall that Papa Bear plans to enter the Strong-Bear competition at the local fair. Too Tall's father, Two-Ton Grizzly, is the overwhelming favorite, and Papa would rather win the honey-making competition, so the fib disrupts the entire family's plans.
The Berenstains are none too thrilled when "The Neighborly Skunk" moves nearby. But they chip in to help fix up his home, and the skunk helps Brother fend off more bullying by the Too Tall gang. Getting along with people isn't always easy, but the Berenstain Bears learn in these 10-minute tales that cooperation has rewards.
Best For Ages:
2-5 - These short tales with accessible morals appeal to very young viewers.
6-8 - Though the plots are a bit juvenile, many school-age children have read Berenstain Bears books and like watching the stories on television.
Educational Value: "The Trouble With Friends" and "The Neighborly Skunk" both present new neighbors who cause problems for some of the Berenstain Bears. "Ring the Bell" shows Brother trying to deal with bully Too Tall.
Entertainment Value: The amusing "Ring the Bell" offsets two more serious afterschool special-type stories about getting along with people.
A comic romp and two more serious tales encourage children to think about how they treat one another. In each story, Brother or Sister is faced with a bully but gains self-respect from family and friends.
Sister is happy when a girl her age moves nearby because her brother and male cousin never want to have tea parties or play dolls with her. Mama encourages Sister to see Lizzie's friendly aspects even though Lizzie always wants to do things her own way. It's too bad Mama doesn't encourage Brother to accommodate his sister the way she accommodates him; some parents may be aggravated that the episode reinforces stereotypes about "boy" and "girl" games.
Similarly, Papa Bear embarrasses Brother by entering a honey-making contest at the county fair. When the Too Tall Gang suggests that Papa might as well take up needlepoint, Brother defends his father's masculinity by claiming he'll win the strength competition. Papa doesn't let his son down, but only because angry bees attack him over their stolen honey.
"The Neighborly Skunk," this installment's strongest episode, deals with prejudice as the bears must overcome their aversion to a potentially smelly neighbor. Once they do so, Mr. Skunk repays them by making a real stink for Too Tall. Kids don't giggle as much during this episode as during "Ring the Bell," but they appreciate the ending.
For more on getting along with people, try THE BERENSTAIN BEARS LEARN ABOUT STRANGERS or BEAR IN THE BIG BLUE HOUSE: I NEED A LITTLE HELP TODAY.
Children's Television Reviews