'Franklin and the Turtle Lake Treasure'
(Louise Cheka, Kevin Sommier, et al / DVD / G / 2007 / HBO Home Video)
Overview: Franklin the Turtle is on holiday and gets a suprise visit from Aunt Lucy, an explorer whose specialty is finding archaeological treasures. When Granny suddenly falls ill, Aunt Lucy helps Franklin and his friends find the box that may contain the cure. The search for the box leads the friends through thrilling exploits but Aunt Lucy's goddaughter Samantha, a sassy young Turtle, complicated things with her bossy behavior. So it;s up to Franklin - who uses all his diplomatic skills - to keep things peaceful and focused on finding the box - and what's inside.
DVD Verdict: Franklin loves playing in Woodland with his friends Bear, Beaver and Snail. But things get turned topsy-turvy when Franklin's Aunt Lucy - an archeologist - returns home from one of her many trips, bringing with her her goddaughter, Sam. Sam and Franklin take an instant dislike to each other - she's mischievous and a year older than Franklin.
Eventually, Franklin and Sam come to appreciate each other. But she still doesn't want to play pirate games with Franklin and his friends. Aunt Lucy thinks it would be fun, though - they just need a proper treasure to hunt for. Fortunately, she has a map: a map that Granny Turtle made when she was just a girl to where she buried a time capsule of her special things.
Franklin goes to Granny's house and shows her the old map, and learns of its origins: Granny had a special place near Turtle Lake when she was a young girl, and she had buried a tin box of her favorite things. But a few days later, while sleeping outside in her tent, a forest fire ravaged the area. Granny was safe in a boat she took out into the lake, but the fire took her cabin - and her parents with it. Granny had never been able to find her box again, because the fire had taken down all the landmarks.
Shortly after Franklin learns Granny's story, tragedy strikes: Aunt Lucy finds Granny unconscious on the floor, and feverish. Any thoughts of hunting for the treasure are back-burnered. But when Franklin deduces that Granny wants them to find the treasure - especially when that treasure might contain a Turtle Talisman, a powerful bit of magic - the hunt is back on.
It's a wild adventure into the woods, fraught with unexpected dangers. Snail nearly even becomes a snack for a trio of falcon chicks! When a band of butterflies lead them to Old Turtle - a sort of ancient shaman - they learn from her to look for a sunflower under a rainbow.
Of course, they do end up finding Granny's lost treasure - just not where they expected to find it, and not quite literally the way Old Turtle hinted. And there is, indeed, a Turtle Talisman in the box, much like Old Turtle's (in fact, she gave it to Granny's father for a kindness he had done her.) But the real magic in the box comes from something Granny hadn't seen in years, not ever since the fire stole her parents from her.
The animation is smoothly done against a lush, vivid, and finely detailed background. The story is gently told, even the exciting bits, to make it palatable for the youngest viewers. If you're looking for an hour's entertainment for the whole family, "Franklin and the Turtle Lake treasure is a safe and enjoyable tale. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the following Previews: "Babar: King of the Elephants", "Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking", and Classical Baby episodes.