Olive the Other Reindeer
(45 mins., 2003)
If you want a change from the same old tired Christmas movies, check out Olive the Other Reindeer, which aired on Fox in 1999 and is based on the book by J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh. Brought to you by the dry wit of Simpsons creator Matt Groening, Olive (voiced by Drew Barrymore) is a dog who doesn’t bother with fetching or burying bones. When she hears that Blitzen has a broken leg and that Santa is relying on ”Olive the other reindeer” (or was it all of?) to help him Christmas Eve, she takes it upon herself to get to the North Pole to help St. Nick make his journey. But an evil postman (Dan Castellaneta, the voice behind Homer Simpson) — sure, he’s a bad guy, but you can’t you blame him for being crabby this time of year — may hamper Olive’s heroic chances, and if it weren’t for an assist from a fake-Rolex hawking penguin (Joe Pantoliano), there might be no holiday at all.
Recommended ages: 3 and up
Toot & Puddle: I’ll Be Home for Christmas
(44 mins., 2006)
Toot and Puddle, pigs and best friends from the Holly Hobbie book series, could teach kids a thing or two about Christmas. For one, they actually smile when taking their holiday picture, instead of looking like they are being tortured. And they’re not obsessed with what’s going to be under the tree for them. Instead, all they really care about is being together for the holiday (Toot’s visit to Scotland almost ruins that). Isn’t that what Christmas is supposed to be about? A stranger in a sleigh helps Toot make his way home to Woodcock Pocket, and all is well.
Recommended ages: 3-6
Ezra Jack Keats’ The Little Drummer Boy…And Four More Stories
(45 mins., 2006)
In the title story of this collection, the beautiful watercolor illustrations of Keats’ picture book come to life. Drumming and singing tell the story of Jesus’ birth and those who came to honor him. You can use the quiet gaps in between to further explain the story of the nativity.
Recommended ages: 3-7
Also in stores: A colorized Miracle on 34th Street, O. Henry’s Full House (featuring ”The Gift of the Magi”), an all-animal CGI Christmas Carol, Holly Hobbie & Friends: Christmas Wishes (with the voice of LeAnn Rimes) and to celebrate the Grinch’s 50th birthday, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (with the captivating ”Horton Hears a Who” featurette).