When Charlie Brown reads aloud the classic tale of a rat-ridden city, he recasts it as a modern-day misadventure involving a band of sports mice that overruns his town. Whether kicking soccer balls, riding motorbikes, or skating through plazas, these little gray rodents are prolific and proud. They parachute onto dining tables to devour scraps of food, and they river-dance their way into City Hall. How to rid the town of these menacing exhibitionists? Just in time, Charlie Brown introduces the mayor to the Pied Piper Beagle, an adroit accordionist also known as Snoopy. With his usual sophistication, the clever canine parades the band of misfit mice to the edge of town, getting rid of them forever. Snoopy is quickly heralded a hero, but the mayor reneges on his promised payment of a year's supply of dog food. Sweet and unassuming, with a silky-smooth score from David Benoit, this direct-to-video cartoon is a fitting tribute to the late Charles Schulz (it is also the last Peanuts special developed under his supervision). Endearing to the end, it is a classic reminder of why America's famous beagle is still a pied piper of sorts, captivating millions of fans with his enchanting spell--with or without an accordion. Also included is a deft 11-minute feature on Schulz outlining the origins of Peanuts, including a timeline showing when the characters were created. Just right for kids interested in such things. Ages 4 and older. --Lynn Gibson
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