As Harold Schechter points out in the introduction to this invaluable collection of reviews of children’s videos, one of the major advantages of owning a videocassette recorder is the control it enables you to have over your children’s video viewing. What good is that control, though, if you have nothing but guesswork on which to base your choice of cassettes? Most parents do not have the time to preview every video they consider renting or buying for their child; fortunately, Dr. Schechter has done it for us, and, even more fortunately, he has done it wondrously well.

KIDVID includes more than 250 entries covering some 300 titles. Each entry includes the distributor, year of production, price, and running time, plus recommended ages for viewing and ratings ranging from poor to excellent. The main part of the entry is a witty, intelligent synopsis of the video, with a critical analysis informed by the sensibilities of a film critic and a sensitive father.

Schechter provides warnings, when appropriate, of commercialism, violence, sexism, stereotyping, sexual innuendo, and frightening images. At the same time, his perspective as a film critic leads him to praise quality in a video even when it is frightening. His alertness to sexism and his well-founded dislike of children’s programs, which are essentially nothing but long commercials, are especially noteworthy.

Although the book’s usefulness would be enhanced by indexes keyed to rating and age level, in addition to the one by subject already provided, parents will find this guide indispensable.