Sunday, February 1, 2009

Word Up, It's Word Girl!

Hello there. I've been one poor correspondent and I've been too, too hard to find, but it doesn't mean you ain't been on my mind (yes, I'm a fan of America. That's a line from Sister Golden Hair.) I've been taking a much needed break after the hectic holidays, but I'm back and ready to bring you more information on great resources, books and products for kids.

I thought I'd take a minute to gush about one of my children's favorite educational shows on PBS--Word Girl. This clever cartoon features a young girl, Becky Botsford, who is really a superhero from the planet Lexicon known as Word Girl. She and her faithful monkey friend, Captain Huggy Face (whose alter ego is Bob), stop a variety of bumbling villians and assist the citizens of our planet with their vast vocabularies. This is a really funny show that parents will enjoy as well as children. The villains are bizarre and amusing, including the evil and cheese-loving Doctor Two-Brains (once a friend of Word Girl's who became a villain when an experiment gone awry fused him with a particularly nasty lab mouse), Chuck the Evil Sandwich Making Guy (a twisted yet not very intimidating sandwich lover who still lives in his mother's basement), and the Butcher (a meat-lover who butchers the English language as much as anything and who wields meat like a weapon, exclaiming things like "Pastrami Attack!" and "Roasts of Fury!" when fighting our heroes). There are a host of other eccentric adversaries (not all of them have food fetishes), and all of the conflicts Word Girl faces help to teach young viewers the meaning of new words, such as "masquerade," "hoax," "identical," etc. which veiwers are told to listen for at the beginning of each adventure. When Word Girl flies off to stop vilians, she shouts "Word Up!" When she's not fighting crime, Becky tries to be a normal fifth-grader, and her adventures often arise during activities or situations that kids can relate to (such as trying to make it to Splashy Splashington's water park on a hot day, or waiting in line for the release of the latest Princess Triana novel, which is analogous to the Harry Potter series).

There are two adventures in each episode of the show, broken up by subfeatures, such as the game show spot called "May I Have a Word?," a man-on-the-street sort of spot called "What's Your Favorite Word?," and a spot in which Captain Huggy Face illustrates the meaning of a word (such as "pensive") with facial expressions and body language.

I could spend hours describing all the funny little quirks of this show, but you really should see it for yourself. To learn more about the show, view clips, activities and lessons plans, and to learn when the show might be on in your area, check out the extensive Word Girl pages on the PBS Kids Go! site. There are also related word games on the Scholastic web site, which notes that the series has won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in Animation, as well as a Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding Achievement in Children's Programming. Word Up!

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