If you've got a pre-schooler and a television, the chances are you've already watched at least one episode of Little Charley Bear, because he's on CBeebies every weekday at both 9.30am and 1.30pm. I actually would love to see him programmed nearer the bedtime hour because 6-year-old Juliette loves snuggling up in front of it with her thumb in her mouth and invariably falls asleep or at least has some quiet time so it would be great for winding down and resting after school or getting into a sleepy frame of mind at the end of the day.
Although you can now watch the cute little bear whenever you want because his first ever DVD has just been released. Called Are You There, Charley Bear?, it contains seven adventures featuring the cute little bear and his gaggle of friends, Caramel the cow, Bellarina the ballerina, Frozo the penguin, Midge the teddy bear, Nibblit the rabbit and Rivet the robot.
What I - and I think, Juliette - love is the fact that Charley Bear is far from perfect but he's still lovable and has lots of friends. In one of the episodes, he keeps bossing around his toys and learns that the only way to get people to cooperate is to be nice to them - a great life lesson there ! In other episodes, he has to overcome stage fright and shyness and realise that he's not very good at juggling or circus tricks - but even with all his faults, everything still works out right in the end. That's a really good message for any little perfectionists out there (Sophie and Juliette included).
Juliette was initially perturbed by the fact that Charley Bear never actually talks, but the great narration from James Corden, of Gavin & Stacey fame, totally makes up for this. (What is it with Gavin & Stacey actors narrating kids' cartoon characters ?! Joanna Page, who plays Stacey, is the voice behind Poppy Cat, which I reviewed here, too.)
The animation is very simplistic and uncluttered, which is why I think it's so calming, and the adventures Little Charley Bear goes on, becoming a sheriff in the wild west, a circus performer or a pop star, really appeal to young children, inspiring them to make up their own stories with their toys.
The DVD also offers some cool extras, including a bonus episode, an introduction to Charley and his friends and some downloadable colouring sheets.
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £12.99 (but only £7.60 at amazon)
run time : 49 minutes
for more information : http://www.littlecharleybear.com/
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