''Firehouse'' and ''The Hospital'' teach kids about safety and health
Big, as his friend Hoots the Owl calls him, has been one very busy bird. In the first of these two instructive productions, Big Bird's curiosity results in an adventure that would make many kids envious. His question ''What's a firehouse?'' generates an invitation to find out from a chief called to investigate smoke emanating from Oscar's trash can. (It turns out he is cooking shish ''keblob'' and anchovy-prune burgers.)
Big Bird joins his friends, including Gordon (Roscoe Orman) and Muppet buddy Elmo, on a trip to the firehouse, where the chief explains how various fire-fighting equipment works. Big Bird goes with the fire fighters on a run (a camera gives a fireman's-eye view from the truck) and watches them battle a blaze. Although not as detailed as the popular 1983 book A Visit to the Sesame Street Firehouse, which covers fireboats, forest fires, and other topics, the videotape provides plenty of information.
The idea behind Big Bird's visit to a hospital is much the same. Admitted because of a nagging cough, he learns what goes on in a hospital and finds out what all the equipment and tests are for. Big Bird asks the sort of questions young children do. When a doctor, played with aplomb by Robert Klein, says he's going to look into Big Bird's throat, Big Bird turns to his friend Maria (Sonia Manzano) and asks: ''Why? Has he lost something?''
Both stories offer simple, enjoyable ways for kids to learn more about their world-and about important subjects that affect safety and health. A