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Color Me Wild

The latest in kids’ products




Ginger is a dumpy but lovable circus puppy that enjoys being a junior member of Sir Deedrick’s troupe of performing dogs. But Ginger is lonely and dreams of finding a little girl who would have time to play with her and love her. The plot is brisk and engaging. Humble, hard-working Ginger loses a starring role in a new act to the preening Prunella, ”The Precious Poodle of Precision.” Then Prunella fumbles in mid-performance, and Ginger dashes to take her place. Conquering her fear, she leaps from a high ladder, somersaults off a trampoline, and — woomf! — lands right in the arms of a little girl clown who has just joined the circus. It’s love at first hug.

Ernst’s colorful, outsize pictures are filled with humor, gaiety, the exciting glow of spotlights, and dramatic shifts in perspective. Ginger’s daring leap is deliciously rendered in a blur of motion like time-lapse photography. What a dog! What a climax! And what a warmhearted, thoroughly satisfying picture book. A


VIDAMERICA (800-843-1994); $6.98; 30 MINUTES; AGES 4 AND UP

”You laugh so much your sides will ache ,” goes the theme song to these Felix the Cat cartoons. My young son disagrees; he says he rarely laughs at Felix’s adventures. Though the cartoons’ style is distinctive — simple but oddly exaggerated drawings, with the plot explained again and again in the dialogue — the stories aren’t at all amusing.

Why have a couple of generations of kids been delighted by Felix? Is it his high-pitched voice, which reminds them of their own? Or the way he always seems to come out on top?

In the four cartoons on the Gold! tape, all from the popular ’60s TV show, Felix matches wits with greedy Professor Nut Meg and his stupid accomplice, Rock Bottom. In the first two stories Felix stolidly defends his gold mine against the professor’s mad incursions. In cartoon No. 3, Pierre Moustache, a Frenchman (but of course), asks Felix’s help in finding land deeded to him. The professor ties Felix to a tree and beats him to the land. But, as usual, Felix has the last laugh: The land is only a mudhole, and the professor and Rock go down to dirty defeat. In the final cartoon, the professor and Rock, with the help of paint that makes them invisible, try to rob the King of Schnitzelvania. Felix, in the role of private eye, quickly determines what’s going on and foils the crime by spraying the villains with paint remover.

Both the good guys and the bad can be engaging: Felix because of his enormous eyes and nonchalant manner, and the professor and Rock Bottom because they try so hard and are so easily outsmarted. But the plots here are far from spellbinding. In this anthology, at least, Felix the Cat falls flat. C

Color Me Wild
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