May 25, 1987 12:00 PM

It may be beyond the call even of parental duty to have to endure ventriloquist Shari Lewis doing a rap song to introduce this tape—”This is not a TV show/ What you’ve got is a home video.” She also trots out her puppet Lamb Chop, who always has been such an infuriatingly cutesy-wutesy type that it’s impossible to look at her without thinking of how wonderful it is that real sheep don’t talk. Nonetheless, this lickety-split, bright, funny tape manages to be a joy from start (at least after the rap) to finish. Lewis demonstrates magic tricks, tongue twisters, riddles, easy-to-make puppets, little stunts and songs, hardly pausing for breath. She also frequently stresses to children the importance of their stopping the tape to try out what she’s teaching. Or, as Lewis puts it, “Don’t just view it, do it.” Maybe the biggest trick of all is that Lewis seems to wear nearly 101 different outfits. She never wears the same one for two “things” in a row, anyway. But there are such nice tricks as sticking a pin in a blown-up balloon without bursting it (you have to put Scotch tape on it first). The tongue twisters include “a cup of proper coffee in a copper coffee cup.” Among the riddles: “What word starts with an e and only contains one letter?” (“Envelope” is the answer.) There are games that can be played in cars, puppets that can be made out of paper, and feats of leverage (for instance, learning how to hold your index fingertips together no matter how hard someone tries to pull them apart, by raising both elbows). There are, in short, lots of easy-to-learn, diverting ideas that don’t require much in the way of supplies or preparation. Lewis maintains a quick, never-condescending patter. Henceforth, no home that has children inside and a rainy day outside will be really complete without this hour-long tape. (Random House, $19.95)

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