28 March 2008

The Cat, Language Lessons and Children's TV

Our 11 1/2-year-old cat, Bootsie, was very happily curled up on the couch in the middle of her 20-hour nap when Flynn came up to her and said, rather loudly into the cat's ear, "Ni Hao, Bootsie! That means 'hello' in Chinese."

Boots looked at Flynn like she was thinking, "It's a good thing I don't have claws, kid." And then promptly resumed her nap.


Flynn resumed watching one of her very favorite TV shows: Nick Jr.'s Ni Hao, Kai-lan. Kai-lan is a 5-year-old little girl and much like Dora the Explorer, only much, much quieter. Kai-lan has animal friends, like Dora and teaches vocabulary, like Dora (only Kai-lan teaches Mandarin Chinese instead of Spanish). And she does appear to have adult supervision (her grandfather) while Dora's pretty much off in the rain forest or wherever exploring by herself, though she is accompanied by a monkey. My guess is Dora's parents sent her outside because she shouts so bloody much.

On a side note, I'm very happy Flynn is outgrowing her Dora obsession, which has been there since infancy (when she would cry the only thing that would make her stop was the Dora theme song).

Flynn's other favorite on Nick Jr. is Yo Gabba Gabba!. She adores the funky-looking characters, one sung a song that actually got her to eat ("There's a party in my tummy/so yummy/so yummy"). DJ Lance Rock introduces each episode by removing friendly toy monsters from his giant boom-box and placing them in a magical land full of music, dance, colorful cartoons (including the great "Super Martian Robot Girl" by Sarah Dyer and Evan Dorkin), and simple life lessons that get Flynn dancing along every time. Yo Gabba Gabba! is hip and fun and cool and weird.

But DJ Lance could use a sandwich, he's waaaaay too skinny.

A show both my kids love (and I like it too) is Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! Each half-hour episode promotes positive values like honesty, tolerance, fairness, and cooperation. It's from the producers of Nick's wildly popular show, The Fairly OddParents (we enjoy that one as well). What makes this show different from other preschool shows? First and foremost it makes them laugh. The show uses humor to drive the stories. The writers and animators use classic cartoon physical comedy as a way to keep my kids laughing so that they just naturally soak up the underlying message. For those of you not in the know, Wubbzy is the cute little yellow guy with the long tail. He is joined by his two friends, Walden the bookish scientist and Widget the mechanical genius (she can build/fix just about anything).

What I dig about this show is its art direction (I like the direction on all three shows). Wubbzy!'s style is very modern, but not cold, and whimsical. It's very child-friendly but not child-centric, adults will enjoy this show too and the music reminds me a little of Devo, in actuality musician/composer Brad Mossman. The songs are high-energy catchy pop tunes. I'm hoping they put out a CD of the music from Wubbzy.

So whether the cat learns Chinese or not remains to be seen, but Nick Jr. sure gets the thumbs up at our house.

1 comment:

Mom said...

Yo Gabba Gabba scares me and the kids, although everyone else I know seems to love it.

We haven't watched Kai-Lan yet. The phrase "That's not Dora, turn on my Dora, RIGHT NOW" gets tossed about our house far too often for new shows to get a foot hold.

Also, dh suggested that he and Frank might have married the same person after I commented that someone needed a "freaking sandwich" today LOL