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Tuesday December 8, 1998

Veggie Tales

Moral guidance from a bunch of fruits.

By John Lupton , Contributor

MUSIC BOULEVARD - If Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber aren't part of your life, then you probably don't have kids and/or you don't buy a lot of kid's videos. Although distributed by Lyrick Studios, the same folks who bring you a certain purple dinosaur, Veggie Tales is the brainchild of Iowa native and one-time Bible college student Phil Vischer, who with his Big Ideas team conceived and produced them as a way to entertain children, while conveying a positive Christian message.

Prior to 1998, the dozen or so Veggie Tales animated videos were only available at Christian bookstores, where they were consistently popular sellers -- popular enough that, despite previous trepidation on the part of major retailers to sell merchandise with such a clear religious identification, they are now starting to appear on retail shelves across the land.

A Very Veggie Christmas invites us into the Veggies' first Christmas party, as they take turns performing holiday tunes new and old, familiar and unfamiliar, straight from the heart and off-the-wall wacky. Some of the more familiar songs include "Away In A Manger," "Feliz Navidad" and "Angels We Have Heard On High," but the real delights are the original songs that Vischer and his cohorts have their wise-cracking vegetables singing: "Oh Santa!," where Larry waits for Saint Nick on Christmas Eve, but has to first endure a parade of assorted burglars, Vikings and government agents, and the zany "8 Polish Foods Of Christmas," featuring Oscar the Polish Caterer.

While the knowledge that the Veggie Tales have previously carried an unabashedly Christian message may cause some to shy away, there's little in the way of proselytizing on A Very Veggie Christmas to cause anxiety -- the underlying message is the same one we all try (or hope we try) to keep in mind at that time of year: enjoy the holiday, but remember what it's about. This is, after all, a Christmas album.

Good for all ages, A Very Veggie Christmas is likely to become a family favorite for years to come.


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