Pros: Great concept with the animals telling tales to the kids
Cons: Hard for smaller children to understand
For a few years we have been watching Adventures from The Book of Virtues on PBS, shown on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am pacific time. I received an offer from Reader?s Digest to purchase a number of the videos, which I accepted.
This volume entitled Compassion is thirty minutes long with several inspiring stories told by Plato to Zack and Annie. The rest of the ensemble is Aristotle (Prairie Dog), Socrates (Bobcat) and Aurora (red-tailed hawk). They all meet on Plato?s Peak sharing their life lessons.
The video is made possible due to a generous grant by CIGNA, (A Business of Caring), and The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations with additional funding by John M. Olin Foundation. Based on The Book of Virtues by William J. Bennett with closed-captioned provided for the hearing impaired.
Each television show and video starts off with Zack and Annie riding their bicycles to the song that sounds like this:
?Tell me a story
Read me a Poem
Lend me a melody
Sing me a song
Then let me hold it
Deep in my heart
Where it can speak to me all the day long
The Adventures of Virtues
The thrill of the knowing that it is up to you
This is my story
The adventure has begun?
Plato shares tales from Greek myths, Asian legends, fairytales and folklore. When Zack and Annie encounter challenges in their daily lives they share with Plato their concerns. Plato and the other animal friends then discuss how they have overcome these obstacles and help guide them in the right direction.
In volume three, Adventures From The Book Of Virtues ? Compassion Zack is deeply concerned for a family that lost their home due to a fire. While riding his bike he comes along the scene and watches standing in the street. After the fireman tells the owner that he can rebuild the man states he has only been in this country a few months and cannot afford to do this. When the son arrives home he spots Zack there and says hello to him. When someone asks Zack if he knows the family he says no and pedals away.
Zack goes straight to Plato?s Peak where he relays this scene to Annie, Plato and the animals. Zack explains that the family has a funny accent plus he is just one kid and his help will not make a difference.
Plato reads from a book of tales that Aristotle holds relating ?The Good Samaritan? story from The Bible. First the priest passed by the Jew who was attacked and mugged on his journey. Another passerby decided his people needed him and someone else would stop to save the man. The Samaritan stopped and offered assistance to the man.
After Plato recounted this story Zack was flying his airplane but it went too high for him to reach. None of his pals would help him catch it, instead they repeated what the story showed how two people passed the man saying someone else will come along. Zack then realized that one person could in deed make a difference in the plight of another. The bird caught the plane and told the tale ?The Legend of the Big Dipper?. A girl went in search of water for her mother. When she was bringing the water back she encountered a dog and offered some water from the cup. Each time the cup was emptied more water would fill up. The family ended up with more than enough water thanks to the generosity of the little girl.
The tale of Androcoles and The Lion showed how a prisoner escaped and became friends with a lion. At first the lion had a sharp object stuck in its foot so the man removed this and they stayed together for many months. Then the man and lion were captured separately. When it came time to feed the prisoner to the lion, the animal remembered the scent of the person who helped him and would not harm him.
All these stories help Zack understand the meaning of Compassion and guide him in his endeavor to help the new kid from his class who lost his house in the fire. The next lesson comes about when Zack is reluctant to help rebuild the house with an organization Annie tells him about. The thought of having to give up something he likes and his time in order to help the family has not registered with Zack yet. Plato than explains about the rewards Zack can receive from helping others with the story of Androcles and the Lion. The reward for saving the lion in the beginning was his friendship and then their freedom.
Plato explains that they can all work together to re-build and reads from the story of The Statue of Liberty. Zack learns about kindness to others and offers his friendship to the family and welcomes them to the neighborhood. Zack even gave his airplane as a welcoming gift to his new friend.
You can learn more about the series and find the time in your area for the shows by checking out their website at http://www.pbs.org/adventures/Default.htm. The series was created by Bruce G. Johnson with Compassion written by Marion Wells and music by J.A.C. Reynolds. This was produced by PorchLight Entertainment in association with KCET/Los Angeles in 1996.
For the ?Good Samaritan? tale the voice of Eli was George Segal. In the tale of ?Androcles and the Lion? Michael York is the voice. If you click on the half.com link you will find Adventures From The Book of Virtues ? Compassion used copy for $4.99. The video is also available at http://www.alphacraze.com for about eleven dollars new.