Guest Author - Lorel Shea
“Rocket's Firebird Rescue” is a new full length adventure starring Disney's Little Einsteins. The film runs 51 minutes, with an additional bonus episode titled, “Rocket Soup”. I'll admit that initially I was a bit put off by the “Little Einsteins” moniker. I don't like the implication that parents have to plunk their little darlings in front of a box in order to stimulate their minds. There are many products sold to insecure parents who want to give their child every advantage, all seem to have titles that include the names of famous thinkers, composers, or artists, or else words such as “brainy”, “smarter”, or “better”. Though I'm not enamored of the show's name, “Little Einsteins” is quite fun and engaging.
There are four kids on the Little Einsteins team, each with a special talent. The kids are between four and six years old. Leo is the leader of the group and his special skill is conducting. Quincy plays a variety of musical instruments. June is a dancer, and Annie, the youngest member of the team, is a singer. The animation is really cute, and the characters come across as sweet but not saccharine.
In this film, the children introduce a Kandinsky painting, a Fabergé egg, Russian Nesting Dolls, and Igor Stravinsky's, “The Firebird” at the beginning of the story. The kids start reading the story of the Firebird to their friend Rocket, who is a sentient flying ship. They fly to Russia in order to rescue the captive Firebird. An evil ogre has captured her, and she can only sing very softly while she is captive. All the music of the area is subdued and the flowers are wilting. The kids must use their abilities to overcome various obstacles and vanquish the evil ogre.
An interesting component of the dvd is the interactive “Magic Mission” option. By using the dvd remote, viewers can click on nine feathers that appear throughout the film. Each feather discloses a video “card” which has an image and a short bit of information. After all cards have been collected, they reveal a hidden picture.
Viewers are encouraged to play along with the team. They are asked to conduct with Leo, for instance, and he starts off “adagio” and progresses through “moderato” and :allegro” to “presto!” Characters often stop and speak directly to the viewer and ask, Will you help us?” My toddler was always quick to answer, “yes!”
“Rocket's Firebird Rescue” is a nice representation of Russian folklore, reminiscent of Peter and the Wolf. The music is lovely and the “bad guys” are not too threatening for very young children. I recommend it for ages 1-6, though I will add that my older children seemed enchanted by it as well!