This Fragile Planet

84 min. Dist. by Marshall Publishing & Promotions. 2015. $14.95. ISBN 9781936134441.
Gr 3–4—The information in this documentary is provided by a strange mix of footage of kids visiting an aquarium and actual footage from nature. It follows school children as they tour the North Carolina Aquarium, in Charleston, learning about the different water ecosystems found in nature. This is somewhat confusing, as the film is not actually about the aquarium or the children. Instead, their experience at the aquarium guides the narration of the information, which bounces around in a way that causes viewers to lose the point of the program. Are we learning about Charleston, the North Carolina Aquarium, the habitats within the aquarium, or the actual ecosystems in nature? The information is decent, with narration provided by the aquarium guides as they tell the students about the various ecosystem exhibits. The children encounter tropical and mountain habitats, swamps, salt marshes, alligators, turtles, snakes, and a variety of fish. At the end of each segment, infographics pop up to review some of the key facts. The footage itself is in no way impressive—a lot of it seems like stock footage—and outdated graphics accompany the poor picture quality. In general, the entire film has a homemade feel to it. Kids may end up feeling bored fairly quickly.
VERDICT Pass on this documentary in favor of one with a better subject focus and production quality.

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