China Toy Fair


Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails Traveling Exhibit Debuts at Minnesota Children’s Museum

image003The world’s most popular blue engine is rolling out on a 10-year North American traveling exhibit tour, which emphasizes the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning. Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails is an interactive exhibit created by Minnesota Children’s Museum that is inspired by the children’s series on PBS Kids. The tour will be in St. Paul beginning on June 14 for three months.

The STEM-focused exhibit was designed to engage children and families in foundation skills that encourage thinking mathematically, making comparisons, experimenting to solve problems, thinking creatively, and reflecting on actions and results. Visitors to the 1,500 square foot exhibit will enter iconic Thomas & Friends locations. Children will help Thomas and his friends solve challenges to test their abilities.

The museum was created in partnership with HIT Entertainment and 5-year national tour sponsorship with 3M.

PBS Kids Debuts Web-Original Plum Landing and App

PlumLandingRight in time for Earth Day, PBS Kids has launched a new, web-original property, Plum Landing, a digital adventure designed to engage kids ages 6 to 9 in environmental science. Plum Landing crosses multiple platforms including animated and live-action video, hands-on activities, web games, and an interactive mobile app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Plum Landing follows the adventures of Plum, a video game designer from the desolate Planet Blorb, who longs to experience nature. To realize this goal, Plum commandeers a space ship, zooms down to earth, befriends five eager kids, and launches them on such missions as, “find a lake in the desert!” and “search for a cow that lives under water!” [Read more...]

PBS Kids, National Recreation and Park Association Partner for Explore the Outdoors Campaign

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 10.56.37 AMPBS Kids and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) have partnered again for their annual Explore the Outdoors campaign. PBS Kids will air themed programming and launch online and mobile content beginning April 7 in celebration of Earth Month. PBS member stations and NRPA member parks will also host events throughout the month to encourage families to participate in educational outdoor activities and explorations.

In addition to eco-themed programming weeks and the premiere of The Cyberchase Movie, Earth Day themed episodes will play on PBS Kids on April 22. The season 3 premiere of Wild Kratts will begin on April 7, where episodes throughout the week will show the brothers exploring animals throughout the globe. Arthur’s Outdoor Week kicks off on April 21 and will include the premiere of two new episodes. The episodes will focus on teaching values, patience, sharing, teamwork, and the power of imagination.

The Plum Landing website will launch on April 21. Plum Landing is a new digital project produced by WGBH that uses animated webisodes, online games, free apps, hands-on science activities, and live-action videos. The goal of the website is to teach young kids about nature, ecosystems, and encourage them to be a caretakers of their planet. The webisodes will feature Plum, a purple alien from Planet Blorb, and her five earthling friends going on adventures and exploring ecosystems. Kids can play animated games in the same setting.

PBS Kids will premiere the The Cyberchase Movie in mid-April. The movie will be an eco-themed one-hour special that includes environmental and math topics. Three online games will debut on the Cyberchase website.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Celebrates Labor Day with Special Episode

Neighbor Day

The Fred Rogers Company will keep hearts warm with a special half-hour episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, titled Neighbor Day,” which is set to premiere nationwide this Labor Day on PBS Kids.

The “Neighbor Day” special aims to show preschoolers that doing something nice for their neighbors can be a rewarding experience that promotes additional acts of kindness and makes them feel good about themselves—a message very important to the beloved children’s entertainment pioneer Fred Rogers.

This Labor Day also marks the first birthday of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, as characters Daniel Tiger, O the Owl, Katerina Kittycat, and Miss Elaina, first met children and families from coast-to-coast one year ago. The special episode will air September 2.

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...]

PlaySquare Partners with Curious Pictures for Investment, Production Agreement

PlaySquare LLC, the creator of Touchable Television for the tablet, announced an investment and partnership with Curious Pictures, a leading producer of television programs, commercials, animation, feature films, and video games.

Under the terms of its agreement, Curious Pictures will also be a production partner and provide support to PlaySquare in the development of Touchable Television episodes for its PlaySquare platform. The investment is being made through Curious Ventures, the venture arm of Curious Pictures.

PlaySquare will co-locate with Curious Pictures in their New York City studio. In addition, Jan Korbelin, CEO of Curious Pictures, will become an advisor and board member of PlaySquare.

PlaySquare’s first release is an adaptation of the episode “Happy Birthday Dog,” from PBS KidsWordWorld, which was released last July and has since accumulated more than 13 million minutes of use, as well as several industry awards. It is currently available for free on iTunes for a limited time.

The Company plans to release new episodes and the PlaySquare platform in the fall.

The Jim Henson Company Announces Tiered Release Of “Sid the Science Kid: The Movie”

sid science kidSid The Science Kid: The Movie, a co-production with The Jim Henson Company and Chinese partners Nine Eyes Stone Pictures and Shanghai Animation Film Studios Group, is making its broadcast premiere on PBS Kids on March 25 (check local listings). Young fans of are in store for more fun when NCircle Entertainment releases Sid the Science Kid: The Movie on DVD and iTunes on April 2.

Select PBS stations across the U.S. will be hosting Sid-themed movie premiere events with hands-on educational activities throughout the month of March. Select events will include meet and greets with Sid the Science Kid, red carpet arrivals, and presentations by real scientists. To learn more, visit https://www.facebook.com/sidthesciencekid.

Additionally, NCircle Entertainment is sponsoring events for kids and families at children’s museums in more than 20 cities across the U.S. in March and April. More information is available at http://www.facebook.com/NCircleEntertainment.

PBS Kids To Premiere New Clifford Film

On December 14, PBS Kids will premiere the animated film Clifford Really Big Movie to celebrate Clifford’s 50th Anniversary. Warner Brothers originally released the film in 2004. It featured John Ritter as the voice of Clifford as well as Wayne Brady, Jenna Elfman, and John Goodman. The new animated film by Scholastic Entertainment will feature the original cast as well as Grey Delisle, Jess Harnell, Kel Mitchell, Judge Reinhold, Kath Soucie, Cree Summer, and Wilmer Valderrama. The new movie takes viewers on Clifford’s cross-country adventure with characters such as Cleo, T-Bone, and an entirely new cast of characters.


All Aboard: Amtrak, The Jim Henson Company Join Forces for Big Big Dinosaur Train Sweepstakes

All aboard the Big Big Dinosaur Sweepstakes, the new national summer promotion for the animated preschool series Dinosaur Train, which airs daily on PBS Kids. The Jim Henson Company, producers of the series, have joined forces with Amtrak for a second year to present a fun and engaging summertime promotion that will award one family with an Amtrak vacation.

Amtrak launches the Big Big Dinosaur Sweepstakes in August. Families can enter the sweepstakes by logging onto www.henson.com/Dtsweepstakes and following the entry directions for a chance to win a vacation to Chicago and Washington, District of Columbia, where they’ll have the opportunity to visit the National Museum of Natural History with exhibits featuring dinosaurs.

As part of the national summer promotion, Amtrak will distribute more than 65,000 free Dinosaur Train themed activity booklets to young travelers and 1 million Amtrak Dinosaur Train ticket jackets to passengers, as well as 20,000 placemats for use in Amtrak’s dining cars. Sweepstakes details will be posted on the websites of Amtrak, The Jim Henson Company, and Tomy. Tomy is the master toy licensee for Dinosaur Train in the U.S.

This post was originally written by Sierra McCleary-Harris and published by ToyBook.com. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

Playsquare’s First Interactive Episode Brings Touchable Television to the iPad

PlaySquare, LLC, the creator of Touchable Television for the iPad, has announced its first release. The new app is an adaptation of the episode Happy Birthday Dog, from PBS Kids’ Emmy award-winning WordWorld. It is currently available for free on iTunes for a limited promotional period.

Touchable Television combines existing television episodes with interactive content to allow children to step into and participate in the story-world of a television property. PlaySquare transforms television from a passive viewing experience into an active adventure where children have the opportunity to watch, think, and do. Children can be immersed in their television shows, play with their favorite characters in their worlds, and help to move each story along.

The Happy Birthday Dog app includes rich, colorful, animation; lovable, funny characters; an engaging, immersive story world in which children can explore, discover, collect, and create different parts of the story as they play; letter recognition; letter sounds; word building; and word recognition. The app also reinforces eye-hand coordination and motor skills.

This post was originally written by Sierra McCleary-Harris and published by ToyBook.com. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.