EW.com's parents' guide: Reviews of DVDs and books for the littlest entertainment fan
Here Comes Peter Cottontail

A new ”Peter Cottontail”: Worth watching?

Here Comes Peter Cottontail: The Movie
(DVD, Classic Media, $16.98, 69 minutes)
A completely fresh sequel to the 1971 TV classic, in which Junior (voiced by SpongeBob SquarePants‘ Tom Kenny) takes on his dad’s nemesis, Irontail (a spot-on Roger Moore). Poor Junior has inherited the irresponsible gene from Dad — remember how Peter slept through his first big Easter because he partied the night before? This time, the young bunny hops off with his friends and leaves the crucial clock of spring in the hands of evil old Irontail, who, with partner Jackie Frost (Molly Shannon), aims to keep Spring Valley in eternal winter. But Junior does try to set things right, and with the help of two sassy friends (a flight-challenged bird and a very hungry mouse), he saves the season. Kids will respond to Junior’s desire to modernize his father’s operation (though we never do find out exactly what nougat is), and to the music, especially the title song by pop-rock group Kai. And if you’re longing for the original — in all its stop-action animation glory — you can find it in a set with the new DVD, for $21.98. B+Eileen Clarke
Recommended ages: 2 and up

I Love It When You Smile
By Sam McBratney; Illustrated by Charles Fuge (HarperCollins, $15.99)
Little Roo wakes up in a sour mood. And nothing his mother does — tickling, teasing, playing his favorite games — can coax a smile out of him. Finally she gently tucks him into her pouch and off they go in search of breakfast — but as his mother hops and bounces, trying to elicit a giggle, she accidentally slips into a big messy mudhole. ”Roo himself was muddy all over. Then he looked at his mother, who was soaking wet and slimy from the tops of her ears to the tips of her toes.” And finally, of course, he has to smile. McBratney, author of the wonderful Guess How Much I Love You, understands the minds of small children, who will immediately relate to Roo’s grumpiness. ATina Jordan
Recommended ages: 2-6

Plantzilla Goes to Camp
By Jerdine Nolen; Illustrated by David Catrow (Simon & Schuster, $16.95)
Finally! Mortimer Henryson is old enough to go to Camp Wannaleavee, where his dad spent happy summers as a boy. But there’s a catch: He can’t take his beloved pet, Plantzilla — a rather ferocious-looking specimen — with him. And without Plantzilla, camp is not much fun. For one thing, Mortimer is bullied by his cabinmate Bulford Whipland. For another, there are bees, poison ivy, and poison oak everywhere. But Plantzilla saves the day, arriving at camp and putting the pusillanimous Bulford in his place. Kids will love this book, which, behind its zaniness, conveys a real message about the power of friendship. A-Tina Jordan
Recommended ages: 5-8

Amelia’s Book of Notes and Note Passing
by Marissa Moss (Simon & Schuster, $9.95)
Amelia, the star of Moss’ fabulous graphic novels, is now in middle school, with plenty to worry about (”My mom cuts my hairs even though I BEG her not to….I’m still not allowed to get my ears pierced, I must be the last girl on the planet with this problem”). But then, devastated by the loss of her best friend Carly — plucked away by Maxine, the snooty new girl in town — and upset by the barrage of nasty notes she finds at her locker, Amelia has to deal with even bigger issues: cliques, meanness, and the horror of the lunchroom. Listen up, moms and dads: This is what your daughters are going through in middle school. And this terrific addition to the Amelia canon will help them deal with it. ATina Jordan
Recommended ages: 10-13

The Possum Always Rings Twice
By Bruce Hale (Harcourt, $14)
Hooray, it’s another Chet Gecko mystery, as charmingly titled as some of its predecessors (Farewell, My Lunchbag; The Hamster of the Baskervilles; etc.). ”Let’s face it: Elementary school is a jungle. Want to survive? Know your beasts….” This time out, a scruffy sandpiper named Viola hires Chet (yes, a gecko) and his best pal, a mockingbird named Natalie, to figure out who’s trying to fix the school election. As usual, it’s the humor, not the mystery, that will engage young readers (”’Er, Chet Gecko, the detective?’ ‘No,’ I said, crunching a couple of Cheese Nits, ‘Chet Gecko, the brain surgeon. We’re offering free lobotomies today. Want one?”’ ) My only complaint (a minor one, I admit): I wish the illos didn’t seem so dashed-off and, well, dumb. B+Tina Jordan
Recommended ages: 8-12