Monday, May 25, 2009

Waybuloo on the BBC

Sorry for my reticence of late. I've found myself inundated with screenwriting and other projects, which is good news of course but makes it a bit difficult to keep very up to date here.

BBC News just created a television story about the new show Waybuloo, which has an emotional and social intelligence curriculum, rather like Kailan would have been had it retained the original yoga component. But I've been aware of it for a while so it's great to see it out and in homes.  

So here it is:

And I'm not sure if it will work embedded but if you watch on the BBC site then it links afterwards to stories about the lottery funding controversy in British kids' television and the digital make-over of Postman Pat, one of England's most storied kids' TV characters.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Children's Book Week!

That's right. Children's Book Week runs from today, May 11, through the 17th. Not only that, but it's a round number anniversary this year as the event marks its 90th birthday in the United States. You can read all about it on the history page of the official Children's Book Week website. There's more information/musings on Geek Dad, Education World (mostly lesson plans and activities), and even Tomorrow right here in Manhattan they'll announce the winners of the secon annual Children's Choice Book Awards, but there are other events going on throughout the country; if in doubt check with your local library. 

At our house we didn't really plan this to coincide with the event, but here at home we marked a milestone yesterday when I started reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Loretta. I told her she's big enough she doesn't need pictures on every page, and she was hesitant at first but then wouldn't let me stop after the first (or second or third) chapter. So that was a success--we've now entered the "serial storybook stage" where I can read her Charlotte's Web, The Wind in the Willows, Pinnochio, and all those other paperbacks that have been taking up half of a shelf on her bookshelf. (We've told her long stories before and greatly enjoyed some text-heavy books like Beatrice Potter, but this is a first to launch into a chapter book with her complete knowledge; maybe that puts us behind the curve but I think it's pretty cool still.) Today at bedtime, however, we read Al Perkins' Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb because I'm trying to get some sight words and phonics out of it. And it's a great book.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Changes for PBS's Corporate Sponsors

Today this article in the New York Times literally fell in my lap (when I picked up the business section). It's an interesting piece by Brian Stelter about how PBS is changing its corporate underwriting policies in response to both the Internet (though that front is somewhat tacit in the article) and the recession. The change--a shortening in underwriting times--applies to kids' shows and adult fare like Nova and American Experience, but it represents something of a move toward the commercialization (due to quick turnover) of non-commercial TV. As for me, my clearest memory of Reading Rainbow as a kid is the Kellogg logo leading into the butterfly before the opening credits. That's the kind of corporate social responsibility I hope many firms still have--to commit to quality programming long term--despite the changing business model.

The article mentions the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood. Their site, which is also on my blogroll at the right, is available here

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dom DeLuise

For those who have not heard, actor and children's book author Dom DeLuise died on Monday at age 75. Here he is years ago with the Muppets on their show--he also had a cameo in The Muppet Movie. He's best remembered for his broad comic work with directors like Mel Brooks, but I wanted to honor him here for his voice work on kids' TV shows like The Magic School Bus and Dexter's Lab and for films like Disney's Oliver and Company and, particularly, the cartoons of Don Bluth, with whom he worked over and over again. Here's his New York Times obituary, but I thought I'd just include a segment from the film in which I first heard him, Bluth's 1986 An American Tail, for which he played Tiger the cat. 

Monday, May 4, 2009

Kids' Characters Push Healthy Food

Back around Halloween I wrote some thoughts about the relationship between junk food and children's media. Today the Washington Post ran a story by Caitlin McDevitt about how kids' licensed characters are now being enlisted to promote healthy food. Cynics may point out that the companies like Disney are merely being market savvy as obesity and junk food gain ever more prominence and disapproval in public discourse, but I suppose any progress--toward improving the American diet--is good progress. Of course, branding potatoes may be just a half measure, a surface solution that doesn't approach the core problem of U.S. food production, but that's a post for a different blog.