DVD: $9.99 each
For the family
Two quirky holiday charmers, beautifully animated, based on the books by Raymond Briggs. In the Oscar-nominated short "The Snowman," a little boy soars through the sky with his snowman pal, off to meet Santa Claus at the North Pole. "Father Christmas" finds Santa cozy at home after a hard night's work, reminiscing about his last vacation -- overeating in France, lounging in Las Vegas, kilt shopping in Scotland. After his Christmas Eve labors, he attends the snowmen's party, makes a late delivery to the queen of England, then it's home for a cup o' tea and a snug bed.
Eloise: Little Miss Christmas
A holiday adventure for Plaza Hotel-dwelling, 6-year-old Eloise, based on Kay Thompson's classic books and Hilary Knight's lively illustrations. Eloise and her friends celebrate Christmas by putting on a show with a multicultural, all-inclusive theme. A hotel inspector's imminent arrival puts the plan in jeopardy, but good will to all and some yummy Christmas cookies do the trick. Extras include an OK memory game, a sing-along, a fun introduction to all the "Plaza pals" and DVD-ROM card-making, coloring and wallpaper.
Creature Comforts: Merry Christmas Everybody!
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
For the familywww.sonypictures.com
"Creature Comforts," the inspired comic series from "Wallace & Gromit" creators Aardman Animations, celebrates the holiday in a rib-tickling probe of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," using the series' basic premise -- animated clay animals speaking in the voices of ordinary British citizens interviewed on the subject. Here, all manner of dogs and cats, birds, hamsters, horses and more try to remember the lyrics and figure out what the heck they mean. Get past a slightly slow start, due to some hard-to-decipher accents, and hilarity snowballs.
Rabbit Ears: The Night
For the family
Oscar winner Meryl Streep's expressive narration finds fresh magic in Clement C. Moore's classic Christmas poem in this newly restored Rabbit Ears recording from 1985. The CD, packaged with an illustrated storybook, includes traditional Christmas music performed by Streep, Mark O'Connor, the
Edwin Hawkins Singers, the Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Van Dyke Parks and Sara W. Neil.
On Christmas Eve
Two CDs: $22
Ages 7 to 12
In Ann M. Martin's Newbery Honor Award-winning book "A Corner of the Universe," a 12-year-old girl finds empathy for her mentally disabled uncle as they each face difficult challenges. Compassion shines, too, in Martin's holiday story about family, friendship, loss and hope, as a little girl in a Norman Rockwell-ish 1950s small town finds her faith in Christmas magic first rewarded with a wondrous event, then tested when her secret wish doesn't come true. A pitch-perfect performance by Tony-nominated Alison Fraser adds its own magic.