Up to date information about children's entertainment – film, TV, DVD and more…. from founder and president of KIDS FIRST! Ranny Levy

Archive for April, 2009

PBS KIDS® and PBS KIDS GO! Are in Full Bloom for Earth Day 2009

Monday, April 20th, 2009
PBS KIDS and PBS KIDS GO! celebrate Earth Day on Wednesday, April 22, with the fourth annual “PBS KIDS Share the Earth Day” and a new Web-based Earth Day Channel on pbskidsgo.org. The celebration features premiering episodes from CURIOUS GEORGE, ARTHUR and CYBERCHASE; themed favorites from SUPER WHY!, SID THE SCIENCE KID and more; and eco-focused Web content on pbskidsgo.org, pbskids.org, PBS Parents (pbsparents.org) and PBS Teachers (pbsteachers.org).

“As the future leaders of our world, children need to understand the importance of cultivating a healthy environment for themselves and generations to come,” said Lesli Rotenberg, SVP, Children’s Media, PBS. “With our online, in-home and in-classroom resources and content, we’re encouraging kids, parents and educators to explore the role they can play in helping sustain the Earth’s resources.”

Whether it’s the importance of dirt on SID THE SCIENCE KID, water conservation on SUPER WHY!, planting a garden on MAYA & MIGUEL or the effects of pollution on CYBERCHASE, no seed of knowledge is left unsown. The on-air event also will feature a music video from the award-winning kids’ rock band Milkshake, as well as Earth-friendly tips from PBS KIDS hosts Mr. Steve, Miss Rosa and Miss Lori.

The new PBS KIDS GO! video player (pbskids.org/go/video) will host an Earth Day channel with themed content from ARTHUR, DESIGN SQUAD, THE GREENS and MAYA & MIGUEL. This new online channel invites kids to learn about how their favorite character role models share the Earth, whenever they want. In addition to Web content from PBS KIDS GO! TV series, Web-exclusive sites such as EEKOWORLD — an environment where kids create their own creatures and monitor them in the wild — and THE GREENS – a pbskidsgo.org series about the Green family and their exploration of sustainability, ecology and environmental care — will further explore what it means to be green.

On pbskids.org, younger children and their parents can create an original Earth Day-centered tale at “Dot’s Story Factory” and enjoy games and activities with environmental themes. Additionally, pbskids.org/video will feature themed videos from CURIOUS GEORGE, SID THE SCIENCE KID, IT’S A BIG BIG WORLD and more.

For parents and caregivers, PBS Parents features two new guests as part of its popular “Expert Q&A;” series. Dr. Alan Fortescue of the Earthwatch Institute and advisor to THE GREENS, will take questions from April 1-15 on how to raise environmentally-conscious children. Halle Stanford, Executive Vice President of Children’s Entertainment for The Jim Henson Company and an Executive Producer on SID THE SCIENCE KID and the upcoming PBS KIDS series DINOSAUR TRAIN, will take questions from April 16-30. Ms. Stanford’s discussion will focus on relating the character experiences on SID THE SCIENCE KID to children’s everyday world and the collaborative process of creating the series, including the careful balance and integration of curriculum and entertainment.

PBS Parents also will feature ideas on creating crafts from recyclable materials as well as links to activities at pbskids.org, related book recommendations, an article on “How to Grow Green Kids,” ideas for how to throw an eco-friendly birthday party and more.

To help bring the “green” theme into classrooms nationwide, PBS Teachers offers a new Earth Day Activity Pack for educators to use in the classroom or to post on their classroom, school or favorite social networking Web sites. The Activity Pack is designed for multiple grade levels and contains links to Earth Day-themed education resources and activities from PBS to support environmental awareness.

Episodes for April 22 include:

PBS KIDS (check local listings for air times)

Night of the Weiner Dog
Poor Hundley! It’s the first time he’s been apart from the Doorman in over three years and George’s room isn’t exactly this dapper daschund’s idea of “neat and orderly.” Being a good host, George follows the Doorman’s detailed instructions. George accurately measures Hundley’s food, graciously lets him watch his favorite TV show, “Poodle Groomers,” and even rearranges his living room to make Hundley feel more at home. Though Hundley’s strict demands are not George’s idea of a fun sleepover, George comes through for his friend by rescuing Hundley’s squeaky mouse from the balcony. Now, at last, Hundley can fall asleep! Later that night, when George is having a nightmare, how can Hundley return the favor and help his friend?

Animal Trackers
It’s Nature Week and George is taking pictures of wild animals and their tracks for the big exhibit. Bullfrogs, squirrels, raccoons and hawks are all nice, but George wants a picture of something really exciting and unusual. While George searches for the fawn Bill spotted, he finds an unusual set of tracks that look like a cross between a gigantic duck and a colossal snake. George decides there must be a duckbilled dinosaur on the loose, which would make for a perfect photo for Nature Week! George leaves a trail of fruits and vegetables to lure the dinosaur, but then he remembers that not all dinosaurs are friendly! George frantically rushes to warn everyone, when he bumps into the real culprit behind those tracks – and it’s very different than a dinosaur!

The Dirt on Dirt
In an Earth Day-themed episode, Sid wants to know what makes dirt so dirty? At school, Sid and his friends discover that dirt is really important to the Earth because it helps things grow, and it’s also filled with tiny rocks, pieces of leaves, and even living things like bugs and worms!

Tiddalick the Frog
Whyatt’s mom tells him that he’s wasting water. This is a really big problem and he’s not sure how to fix it. So the Super Readers dash into the Australian folk tale of Tiddalick the Frog and make the acquaintance of a funny amphibian whose puddle jumping is using up all the water and leaving his neighbors in the dust – literally! As the Super Readers help Tiddalick and his dry friends, they learn how important water is to the planet along with a valuable lesson about conservation.

Doggie Garden
It is Keep Birdwell Beautiful month and the kids are doing their part by planting a flower garden. Seeing this, the dogs decide to create a doggie flower garden of their own. But when Cleo hears that almost anything grows in Birdwell Island soil, she decides she’d much rather grow a garden full of dog toys! She soon learns, however, that working alone for a selfish end is not nearly as rewarding as working together for the whole community.

Captain Birdwell’s Treasure
Clifford and his dog friends find the long-lost trunk of Captain Birdwell, filled with wonderful items brought to the Island by the explorer long ago. But through a misunderstanding, Jetta is given credit for the discovery. She knows that telling the truth is the right thing to do, but she can’t resist the promise of a gold medal award. It doesn’t take long for her to realize, however, that awards don’t give much pleasure when they’re not deserved.

World Tree Day
It is World Tree Day and Snook has made badges to give to all of the residents who do something nice for the tree. While everyone finds their own ways to care for the tree, Bob is worried because he can’t think of anything to do. After a talk with Snook and Oko, Bob writes a song to celebrate the tree and earns a badge from Snook.

World Tree Cuisine
It is time to celebrate the World Tree’s birthday and Madge and Snook are planning a surprise party for the tree’s residents. But when Burdette and Wartz overhear them say they are baking a cake, all of the animals start dropping hints to ensure that foods they eat are included in the cake. When everyone gathers for the celebration, they are excited to find individually flavored cupcakes!

BJ is pretending to be a great detective, but all great detectives need a mystery to solve! A case quickly comes his way when something nibbles on one of Baby Bop’s healthy snacks. BJ, Barney, and Baby Bop uncover several clues along the way and soon realize the animal is someone’s pet rabbit. Educational objective: To learn about rabbits.

Ducks and Fish
Barney sees Riff protecting a nest full of duck eggs. Together, they leave the eggs to look for food for when the ducklings hatch. When they return, Riff is pleasantly surprised to find the eggs have cracked open and the baby ducklings have hatched! Educational objective: To learn about ducks and fish. Music curriculum: musical instruments (guitar).

PBS KIDS GO! (check local listings for air times)

The Blackout
It’s the hottest day in Elwood City, when a total blackout leaves its residents without any electricity. Will Arthur and DW survive without AC and TV? Luckily, the Molina family steps in to teach the Reads a lesson on how to keep cool and have fun as a community even under the toughest of weather conditions!

Mei Lin Takes a Stand
Binky’s baby sister Mei-Lin isn’t keen on learning to walk and would rather stick to crawling. But then Baby Kate and Pal’s flea friends, brothers Sale and Pepe, return to Elwood City and share a tale of a little princess in the land of “Hanzan-Niis” who learns to walk in order to save her beloved court jester. Will Mei Lin be inspired to take a stand or continue to stumble?

The X-Factor
All is not well in Perfectamundo, a dome-enclosed cybersite, when orange spots are discovered building up on the dome’s interior surface, blocking the site’s precious sunlight. What source could be responsible for the spots multiplying so fast? Is it Hacker’s new factory that pours out orange clouds through smoky stacks? It can’t be that new Digifizz toy, with its tiny burst of colorful sparkles shooting into the air each time it gets used. With time running out, the CyberSquad must come to grips with the power of multiplication and use it to undo the site’s pollution problem.

Every Day is Earth Day
For a school Earth Day project, the kids decide to clean up an old lot and plant a community garden. But as the deadline approaches, a rainstorm hits, turning the patch of dirt into a muddy mess. How will Maya get her friends out of the muck this time?

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Elmo And The Bookaneers: Pirates Who Love To Read debuts on DVD April 21

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

Ahoy, Matey! All hands are on deck when Elmo And The Bookaneers: Pirates Who Love To Read debuts on DVD April 21. Featuring several lively segments and action-packed stories, the first follows “The Bookaneers,” led by special guest star and Golden Globe winner Tina Fey (“30 Rock”), who come ashore on Sesame Street, map in hand and in search of coveted “library” treasures. Hoping to join the Bookaneers, Elmo is put to a series of tests and joins in their hunt which ultimately leads them to the pirates’ treasure, books! In “Bert and Ernie’s Great Adventures,” a new claymation series, the duo are pirates looking for treasure on the open sea. The hunt is going well until it leads them to an island where a monkey steals their map and their lifeboat floats away from the shore. Bert and Ernie need to work together to find the buried treasure and make their way home. Elmo And The Bookaneers: Pirates Who Love To Read also includes a sing-along-song with Abby Cadabby about something she loves – words! In the final segment on the DVD, “Elmo’s World: Books,” viewers join Elmo in exploring the wonderful world of books.

Synopsis – Everyone loves to read – even pirates! The “Bookaneers,” led by Tina Fey, have come ashore on Sesame Street, and they want to plunder Elmo’s bookshelf. When Elmo finds out how much they love to read, he can’t wait to become a bookaneer himself. Can he pass the test and help them find their treasure? Bert and Ernie are also on the hunt for treasure in an episode from the fantastic new claymation series “Bert and Ernie’s Great Adventures.” Plus, you can sing along with Abby in a song about something she treasures: words! In “Elmo’s World: Books,” Elmo invites you to learn all about the books he treasures. “Arrr” you ready for a reading adventure?

Street Date: April 21, 2009
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“Stuart Little: The Animated Series” Available on DVD April 21, 2009

Friday, April 17th, 2009
Watch for two new DVD volumes from the popular HBO Family Stuart Little TV series: Going For The Gold! and A Little Family Fun! Each volume includes new-to-DVD episodes in which America’s favorite mouse, Stuart Little, and his “big” brother George find adventure everywhere around them. The Stuart Little Animated TV Series stars the voice talents of two-time Golden Globe® winner Hugh Laurie (the Stuart Little feature films, TV’s “House) and Kathy Najimy (Sister Act, TV’s “King of the Hill”). A Little Family Fun!, which includes three episodes, and Going For the Gold!, which includes four episodes.

Based on the characters created by famous children’s author E.B. White (Charlotte’s Web, The Trumpet of the Swan), and made popular by the hit feature films, the Stuart Little series revolves around Stuart, a spirited mouse, who has been adopted by the Little family and his older brother, George. Stuart may be a three-inch tall mouse on the outside, but inside he is a bold, daring and curious youth with a never-say-never attitude. Our furry hero explores our commonplace world from a fresh perspective, while he and his brother – separated by species, joined by brotherhood – have immense fun together and learn a few lessons along the way.

The Stuart Little Animated TV Series: Going For the Gold! episodes include:

He Said, She Said
A thrilling model truck race in the park ends with Stuart’s vehicle spinning out of control. George immediately accuses the winner, Will, of sabotage, and putting his brother at risk in order to beat him to the finish line. Through their individual recollections and flashbacks, George, Stuart and even Snowbell shed light on what really happened and the true cause of the near-crash is unveiled. They realize different people can see the exact same thing and see it differently.
A Little Big Record
Stuart and George decide to get immortalized in “Big Bob’s Big Book of World Records” and settle on building the World’s Tallest Penny Stack. Unfortunately, George and Stuart discover that they have an old edition of the Big Book of World Records, and that their penny stack needs to be almost twice as tall as they’d planned. The boys are left with limited time to try another possible record. Snowbell, meanwhile, injures his leg and discovers that his injury gets him lots of wonderful snacks from Mrs. Little. Even after he feels better, Snowbell is determined to get his paws on the fresh tuna that resides in the Little’s fridge. Stuart and George also set their sights on the tuna and create the “World’s Largest Tuna Salad Sculpture.” They get in the record book and Snowbell gets his tuna.

No Job Is Too Little
With Mrs. Little’s birthday approaching, Stuart and George realize they don’t have enough money to buy her a present. They take on odd jobs to earn extra money and they adopt the slogan “No Job Is Too Little” as they go door-to-door to drum up business. They end up as the delivery boys for a deli, hauling sack lunches around in their red wagon. Meanwhile, a couple of tough alley cats enroll Monty and Snowbell in a heist to ambush the mother lode of deli delights, and to Snowbell’s dismay, it turns out to be Stuart and George’s delivery wagon. Snowbell cleverly and surreptitiously saves Stuart’s life, and gets him home in time for the birthday celebration.

Adventures in Housekeeping
When Mom Little comes down with a cold, it’s up to Stuart, George and Mr. Little to handle all the cooking, cleaning, baby-sitting, laundry-washing and who-knows-what-else that Mom does so well. Before long, the Little men have turned their normally pristine house into a total disaster area. But when the local paper calls to tell them their house has been chosen as “Home of the Year,” they’ve got to change the disaster area back into a beautiful home – fast! In a Little-style cleaning frenzy, Stuart and George clean the whole house – and gain appreciation for how hard their mom works.

The Stuart Little Animated TV Series: A Little Family Fun! episodes include:

A Little Too Fast
When the Littles visit the country fair, George and Stuart go off on their own with an ambitious plan: they’re going to do everything at the entire fair … all in one day! It sounds like fun – but the boys wind up rushing from ride to ride and hurrying through every attraction. And, at the end of the day, they realize that life is a lot more fun when you stop to smell the corndogs.

A Little Vacation
When the Little Family vacation takes our heroes to a spooky inn, it seems like strange things are afoot. Their reservations are missing. Uncle Crenshaw was supposed to meet them there – but he’s nowhere to be found. And Stuart and George are convinced that the inn is haunted! But after a wild adventure on a dark and stormy night, the boys discover that the only thing to be afraid of … is letting your imagination run away with you.

A Little Bit Country
When Stuart and George spend the weekend helping Uncle Crenshaw work on his new farm, little does our Little know that his old nemesis Falcon has also moved out to the country – and he’s out for revenge. When George and Uncle Crenshaw aren’t around to protect him, will Stuart be able to fend off Falcon all by himself?

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CYBERCHASE Weather Watchers New Episodes Start April 20

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009
CYBERCHASE, the only math series for children on American TV will be premiering new episodes starting on April 20, featuring NBC-TV meteorologist Janice Huff as part of its seventh-season Weather Watchers initiative that helps kids learn more and get motivated about climate change.

CYBERCHASE’s Weather Watchers episodes explore real-world math connections in a context that encourages kids to take action and seek answers to our environmental problems. The Weather Watchers initiative features five math and weather-themed episodes, including four new premieres, an interactive Web game on pbskidsgo.org/cyberchase, a hands-on activity booklet, tips for parents and teachers, and other outreach efforts.

The CYBERCHASE episodes embed math concepts in situations where the CyberSquad measures physical properties, quantifies atmospheric conditions and makes predictions to get out of jams. Janice Huff will be featured on the first two premiere week episodes, April 20 and 21 (check local listings). In three live-action shortform videos for Weather Watchers, to debut on CYBERCHASE Online and the PBS KIDS GO! broadband player, Cyberchase goes behind the scenes with meteorologist Janice Huff, the voice of Stormy Gale in the Weather Watchers episodes, and real kids engage in weather-related activities that motivate viewers to “try this at home!”

Below is an overview of the upcoming Cyberchase Weather Watchers programs.

· “Gone with the Fog” (April 20, new! Check local listings) The Cybersquad must figure out the mysteries of dew point to make a daring rescue under the cover of fog. Math topics: Algebraic Thinking, measurement. Weather topic: Fog

· “The Emperor Has Snow Clothes” (April 21, new! Check local listings) Hacker turns the Emperor of Penguia into an icy statue, and the kids have to track a powerful storm so they can avoid it and save the Emperor from a frozen fate. Math topic: Algebraic thinking. Weather topic: Tracking Storms

· “The X Factor” (April 22, EARTH DAY, new! check local listings) One tiny, seemingly harmless act multiplied hundreds of times creates a huge problem in Perfectamundo, and the CyberSquad must use that same power of multiplication to find a solution. Math topic: Power of Multiplication. Weather topic: Climate Change.

· “Blowin’ In The Wind” (April 23, new! check local listings) The key to curing Motherboard’s virus may be at the windiest place in the Northern Frontier, and the CyberSquad must measure and compare wind speeds to find it. Math topic: Measurement. Weather topic: Wind Speed.

· “Digit’s B-Day Surprise” (April 24, encore. Check local listings) In a misunderstanding about a surprise b-day party, Hacker nearly convinces Digit to join his team! Math topic: Measurement. Weather topic: Evaporative cooling.

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Sesame Street “Green” DVD Arrives April 7 Just In Time For Earth Day!

Sunday, April 5th, 2009
Find Out What Happens to Elmo When He’s Turned Green. Join your Sesame Street friends as they team up with Mr. Earth to host their first Earth-a-Thon in Being Green, arriving on DVD April 7. In Being Green, Hollywood star Paul Rudd (Friends) plays Mr. Earth, who teaches Elmo and Abby Cadabby how to be environmentally conscious by recycling, re-using, and conserving water and energy. In her desire to help Elmo to be more “green,” Abby accidentally turns Elmo the color GREEN and can’t remember how to change him back! Lots of fun ensues as Abby is eventually able to poof Elmo red again and Cookie Monster, Rosita, and Telly Monster pitch in, pledging to be eco-friendly, because Earth Rocks.

Kids learn how to be kind to the earth and why it is important. Kids will enjoy the music videos that feature kids sining and lyrics about how to be green – a fun way to deliver a message. This is a delightful DVD that parents will enjoy sharing with their kids and schools or museums could easily fit it into their Earth Day curriculum. The jokes are fun and relavent – such as when the actor gets hot inside his earth costume and mentions global warming, then acting as if he can’t get out of the costume.

As a special bonus feature, Being Green also contains 16 pages of downloadable activities and story sheets to extend the learning at home. Teaching budding conservationists the importance of preserving nature’s wonders, Being Green is part of Sesame Workshop’s green-friendly initiatives. In an effort to teach children to love and respect the Earth and its inhabitants, Sesame Street is increasing its environmental messages and materials for kids. In addition,

Being Green is printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper or cardstock and is printed with soy-based ink. It also uses an Earth friendlier reduced-plastic compared to other DVD cases. The Being Green DVD will be available just in time for Earth Day.

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Snoopy’s Reunion Comes to DVD for the First Time April 7

Saturday, April 4th, 2009
You will love meeting Snoopy’s siblings and finding out where he originally came from on the next Peanuts Deluxe Edition of Snoopy’s Reunion, the heartwarming animated prime time television special that tells the story of Snoopy’s family reunion. Available on DVD for the first time on April 7, 2009, Snoopy’s Reunion will be presented in a fully re-mastered edition, offering consumers dazzling picture and sound quality. In addition, Snoopy’s Reunion Deluxe Edition will also include a bonus episode as well as a newly created featurette.

Snoopy is homesick for his puppyhood days at the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm, so he and Charlie Brown organize a reunion with his brothers and sisters which include Spike, Andy, Olaf, Marbles, Belle, Molly and Rover. However, when Snoopy and Charlie Brown arrive at the puppy farm, Charlie Brown is aghast to find that urban sprawl has replaced it with a parking garage. Although the physical world around them has changed the bond Snoopy and his siblings share has not. They chose to celebrate their reunion by playing musical instruments they’ve each brought, thoroughly satisfied that they are together on the sidewalk in front of what used to be their home.

DVD Special Features Include:

³ It’s Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown — A new-to-DVD bonus episode which was originally broadcast in 1984 as a television special and earned an Emmy Award® nomination for Outstanding Animated Program. It’s Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown features several clever parodies inspired by popular early 80’s dance trends ranging from disco to break dancing as well as a series of top 40 hit songs from the era.

³ Together Again: A Peanuts Voice-Cast Reunion — Features a reunion of original Peanuts cast members and includes the voices of such beloved characters as Charlie Brown, Lucy, Sally, Peppermint Patty and others.

“We think Peanuts fans will treasure Snoopy’s Reunion because it’s one of the rarer Peanuts television specials not often seen on TV and because it imparts a valuable message, the importance of strong family bonds,” said Amit Desai, WHV Vice President, Family, Animation and Sports Marketing. He added, “What’s unique about this special is that it allows viewers to learn more about Snoopy’s origins, his musically gifted siblings and his life before finding a home with Charlie Brown. This is a must-have title for any Peanuts fan.”

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