REVIEW: Video Librarian
Discoveries...America National Parks: New Orleans Jazz and Acadian Culture (2012) 60 min. DVD or Blu-ray: $24.95. Bennett-Watt HD Productions. PPR. ISBN: 978-1-60490-162-7 (dvd), 978-1-60490-165-6 (blu-ray).In Louisiana, even the approach to national parks is a little different. In this latest entry from Jim and Kelly Watt's high-def-filmed Discoveries...America National Parks series, viewers visit the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, which celebrates the birth of jazz in six city neighborhoods, including the French Quarter, as park rangers provide guided tours along famous streets. Celebrating the area's musical heritage, tourists dance to a sidewalk-musician performance of "Li'l Liza Jane," and a hot combo plays in a small club called the Funky Butt.
A somewhat different vibe reigns at the Jean Lafitte Historical Park and Preserve, which encompasses multiple sites that showcase (among other things) Acadian agriculture and Cajun and zydeco music via a museum, as well as various events in Eunice, where (in contrast to New Orleans) no alcohol is allowed and the refreshments include Coca-Cola and popcorn. Other attractions visited here include Natchitoches, the state's oldest city (settled by the French in 1714), and the Creole Nature Trail, a 180-mile road that winds through wetlands and wildlife refuges along the Gulf Coast. As the camera captures distinctive images, voiceover narration is supplemented with occasional commentary from locals to provide a colorful portrait of a unique segment of American culture. Recommended. Aud: P. (C. Block)
REVIEW: The Midwest Book Review
Available on both DVD and Blu-ray (for the same affordable price!), four new additions to the Discoveries... America National Parks series offer wonderful armchair travel experiences in glorious high definition. "Arches: Canyonlands and Natural Bridges" (9781604901610) explores the striking rock formations of southern Utah, canyonlands carved by the Colorado River, natural stone bridges, and even an excursion by adventurous rock-crawling enthusiasts. "New Orleans Jazz and Acadian Culture: Jean Lafitte, Creole Natural Trail, Natchitoches and Rural Mardi Gras" (9781604901627) is the next best thing to a personal visit the National Historical Park in New Orleans' French Quarter, a rural Mardi Gras run, the Prairie Acadian Culture Center in Eunice, coastal wetlands and wildlife refuges of the Creole Nature Trail, and Natchitoches, Louisiana's oldest town.
"Yellowstone Dual Personalities: Spring and Winter" (9781604901597) allows the viewer to viscerally experience the magnificence of Yellowstone National Park, from its abundant wildlife to its steaming geysers, its opportunities for boating/hiking/horse riding, and its dramatic transformation in winter to an icy wonderland where the primary modes of travel are snow machine, snow coach, or cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
"Dry Tortugas: Fort Jefferson and The Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center" (9781604901603) explores one of America's lesser-known and geographically removed national parks, the Dry Tortugas, located just off the southernmost tip of Florida. Its strategic location made it historical site of military and piracy legends; Fort Jefferson once oversaw Spanish explorers, Gulf Coast merchants, and more people who transformed the New World. The Floriday Keys Eco-Discovery Center is also featured, with an eye-opening glimpse of the beautiful terrestrial and marine native plants and animals of the Keys. All four DVDs are as captivating as they are educational, and worthy of the highest recommendation especially for public library collections.