Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

The Magic Mirror in American Sign Language

The Magic Mirror in American Sign Language

Spring 2015 DVD
Ages: 3 - 6 yrs.
Producer: Dawnsign Press
DVD Price: $15.95

The Magic Mirror in American Sign Language is produced by DawnSignPress which, according to their website, "creates, develops, and publishes quality American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf culture-related DVDs and books" and they support "the efforts of Deaf people to document ASL, Deaf culture, history, heritage, and literature."

This program is aimed at viewers ages 3 - 6 and it is part of the Once Upon A Sign series, providing modern re-tellings of stories from classic children's literature and performing them in American Sign Language (ASL). It uses a visually interesting mix of live action and animation, and actors sign while voice-over talent concurrently deliver the script lines.

This story begins at Gallaudet School for the Deaf where auditions are under way for a talent show. A stage-shy teen named Alice Cogswell falters badly at the audition and, discouraged and embarrassed, she's ready to give up. But "Sparkles," a magical character who enters her room through a portal in a magic mirror, encourages Alice to audition again and this time, imagine herself shining like a star. Unfortunately, Alice misinterprets his suggestion and relies too heavily on the magic mirror at her next audition. Her performance is well-received and that gives her ego a mega-boost - but she conveniently overlooks the fact that it was the magic mirror that was responsible for the quality of the performance, and not her own talent. Sparkles reappears in the guise of an elderly lady and encourages Alice to give her next performance without the help of the magic mirror, reminding her that simply believing in herself is all the "magic" she needs to succeed.

Total DVD content runs about 30 minutes long, which includes the story and a bonus feature titled "Fun Signs." That short segment uses words on screen, voice over, and the cast of actors demonstrating how to sign key vocabulary words from the story - in this case, words such as magic, succeed, show, talent, and believe. The DVD also includes an on/off option for subtitles.

The production value here is not lavish but it still makes the most of its budget. The voice-over acting is credible and the actors using American Sign Language are both expressive and engaging. All in all, The Magic Mirror in American Sign Language offers a good message about honesty, character and confidence in a storyline that very young viewer can grasp. Best of all, it does so with an interesting mix of visual and audio elements, meaning the product is versatile enough to be used in Deaf families as well as in inclusive mixed environments with both Deaf and hearing children.

Gina Catanzarite   ©2015 Parents' Choice
Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 9 Emmy awards, 26 Emmy nominations, a Matrix award, two Pennsylvania Broadcaster's Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.

Look for this product at:
Dawnsign Press

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