COMMENTARY: PBS Kids Has Still Got it!

pbskidsIt’s Friday afternoon and like all Fridays this summer, I’m struggling to find something interesting to watch on TV. There’s only so many re-runs one can watch without actually wishing that school was back in session. In between channel surfing and lamenting on days spent in the classroom furiously copying down chemistry notes, I stumble upon a channel I hadn’t bothered paying any mind to in some years.

Somewhere along middle school and now, I’d decided there were better things to watch in the vast pool of cable channels than enjoying some good old educational shows on PBS. Don’t get me wrong, PBS has produced some stellar television like Masterpiece Theatre since its launch. I adored Masterpiece and still do (Downton Abbey anyone?), but anything on the network regarding the PBS Kids block had lost its appeal to me as soon as I’d discovered Lizzie Mcguire and Even Stevens on the Disney Channel. Sitting in despair however, I realized I had nothing better to watch, so I resolutely dropped the remote and left the channel on PBS.

Arthur                                                   

Abby August 8The first show that caught my eye was Arthur, and I was surprised it stood the test of time. As that all too catchy theme song came on (“Every day when you’re walking down the street…”), I quickly remembered why it had been one of my favorite shows. Arthur is based on the book series by Marc Brown, and follows an eight-year old aardvark and his friends and family as they intermingle with each other and deal with different experiences and problems. Yes, Arthur is an aardvark, but he’s not your archetypal aardvark. For one he doesn’t go around eating ants, and is anthropomorphic meaning he has human attributes such as wearing his trademark jeans and yellow sweater and eating sandwiches and ice cream. [Read more...]

Wanderful Launches New Collection of Interactive Storybook Apps

Wanderful has launched a new collection of multilingual, interactive storybook apps for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch based on classic titles originally published as Living Books by Brøderbund Software. The three new apps–Mercer Mayer’s “Little Monster at School,” Marc Brown’s “Arthur’s Teacher Trouble” and Aesop’s “The Tortoise and the Hare”–are now available on the App Store.

Wanderful apps are highly intuitive and encourage children to explore each story and all its content. Each app features custom music, extended animation, and hundreds of interactive hot spots and antics, providing a deeper experience and more interactivity on one page than other story apps offer in total. While fully interactive at the page level, each app also includes the classic “Read to Me” mode that lets young readers watch and listen to the story play automatically.

Wanderful has created a language function that allows readers to switch languages on-the-fly from anywhere in the story. Launching in English, Spanish, and French, future versions of the products will be available in Japanese, German, Italian, U.K. English, and Brazilian Portuguese.

The first three Wanderful interactive storybooks are now available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch at the App Store: “Arthur’s Teacher Trouble,” “Little Monster at School,” and “The Tortoise and the Hare.”