The Baby Einstein Company's "video board books" were designed as music-focused developmental tools to stimulate babies' brains (prompted by research proving that exposure to classical melodies can improve verbal ability, spatial intelligence, creativity, and memory in youngsters). Now the company is expanding into other art forms, including color and art. The idea remains the same--taking bold, beautiful objects (toys, puppets, nature scenes) and setting them to fun renditions of classical music (their recordings are easily the best in the crowded field of child development). A new puppet--Vincent Van Goat--introduces the six primary colors and associates them with Van Gogh's paintings--"The Starry Night" for blue, "Wheat Fields with Reaper" for yellow. The only misstep is the poetry written and read by creator Julie Aigner-Clark, which is strongly reminiscent of Dr. Seuss's My Many Colored Days.
The company suggests the program is for toddlers between the ages of 1 and 4. Harsh sounds between segments--such as balloons popping and tires screeching--will draw the attention of youngsters but will probably render the video inappropriate for babes in arms. The video can be purchased by itself or with a beautifully produced 28-page book featuring Van Gogh's paintings, screen shots from the video, and Clark's poems. The combination set may be the best way to engage 3- and 4-year-olds' interest; they can follow along in the text while watching the video. Music includes "The William Tell Overture," "The Blue Danube," "Bolero," and Brahms's "Lullaby." The video also provides information on the cool toys seen in the ending "Toy Chest" segment. --Doug Thomas