When we were asked if we'd like to review a brand new DVD that is released today called Tree Fu Tom : Tree Fu Go!, I have to admit that it was a programme that we'd never heard of before, but I spotted that it was a CBeebies series and was convinced it would get a good reception from the Madhouse Mini-testers. My instinct turned out to be 100% correct and it was one of those preschooler programmes that I also really loved watching with Pierre because he really got into it and joined in.
I couldn't work out the meaning of the name Tree Fu Tom but it soon all became clear. Tom is a seemingly normal eight-year-old boy but he has a magic belt that transforms him into a tiny but nevertheless powerful super-hero. For the transformation to take place, he has to perform a series of special movements called Tree Fu (presumably a variant of kung-fu ?!) and young viewers are encouraged to join in with these movements. The brilliant thing from a parent's perspective is that they are developed from therapeutic techniques that are used to help children with movement disorders such as dyspraxia. They will help all children though because they are also designed to assist and enhance motor skills development and coordination.
The DVD presents seven magical adventures in Treetopolis, where Tom and his trusty sidekick Twigs the Acorn Sprite must use Big World Magic to avert disasters, save their friends and overcome the epic challenges of the magical and natural world. Preschoolers will love the enchanted world full of sprites, bugs and naughty fungi, as well as the fact that they have to get involved and join in with the movements for the magic to work. (It reminds me very much of Dora the Explorer which relies heavily on audience participation and which the Madhouse Mini-testers have all loved.) Grown-ups will also love watching because they'll recognise the voices of Dr Who stars David Tennant and Sophie Aldred.
A special limited edition version of the DVD featuring a Tree Fu Tom figurine with an RRP of £12.99 will be available for a short time only. The normal DVD (without a figurine) costs £9.99. To be brutally honest, I don't think the plastic toy is really worth the extra £3 but Pierre loves it nevertheless, sitting down to watch the programme with it next to him on the settee ! (I've just noticed you can get the DVD with figurine for £7.49 on amazon, which sounds like a good deal, if you're quick !) 13 episodes of Tree Fu Tom are also available for download via itunes priced £1.19 for HD and £0.99 for SD per episode or HD £10.99/SD £8.99 for the whole series.
If, like us, you've never heard of Tree Fu Tom, I highly recommend checking out the series. It's a lovely story and if the actions help with child development, that's an extra bonus.
Star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £9.99
Release date: Monday 22ndOctober 2012
Running time: 154 mins
Disclosure : We received a preview disc with a Tree Fu Tom figurine in order to write an honest review.