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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Mr. Rogers, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 6 of 6
1. Deconstructing Daniel Tiger or Why Children’s Programming Is Freaking Me Out, Man

DanielTiger 300x153 Deconstructing Daniel Tiger or Why Childrens Programming Is Freaking Me Out, ManToday we deviate slightly from our usual rounds into the world of children’s literature to look at children’s television programming in the early 21st century.  Put another way, I have a new baby and a three-year-old so this is about the level of literary criticism I’m capable of today.  You’ll have to bear with me.

If you are unlike me and do not have a very young child then you may be completely unaware of this particular television show.  But if you do know of it then you’ll probably find that this seemingly innocuous little bit of pleasant programming has a kooky core that’s worth looking into.

First off, I’ve always admired the women of the Children’s Media Association.  Occasionally, because children’s books and children’s media intersect with great frequency, they’ll have me come in to moderate a panel or speak on a topic.  Years and years ago they had me come in and we discussed the fact that some of them were working on this new show that was a kind of spin-off of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.  All I really knew about it was that it was going to be called Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.  Beyond that, no information.  Years passed and nothing happened.  Then, in September of 2012, the show finally hit the airwaves.  Look at the Wikipedia entry and you’ll see that it was in the works since 2006 or so.

Now the premise of the show is what interests me the most.  Without knowing anything about it I just assumed it was an animated version of The Land of Make Believe with all the same Fred Rogers characters.  Not exactly.  Instead, the idea is that those characters all got older (didn’t we all?) and had kids of their own.  So this is the next generation of Make Believe children.  Daniel Tiger is the son of Daniel Striped Tiger, a fact reinforced as true when you notice that the dad sports a watch.  King Friday XIII is there with his wife but Prince Tuesday’s now in his 20s and he has a little brother that’s around Daniel’s age.  X the owl has a nephew, which is a bit confusing since I always assumed that he and Henrietta were an item.  You know.  The owl and the pussycat and all that.  Apparently not since she has a kid of her own and he doesn’t.  No word on who the father of her kiddo is.  I’m going to continue to hope it’s X and that the kitten shows owlish signs in the future.

Where it gets a little peculiar (and as you can see I’m already getting a bit weird about all this) is when you get to the origins of a little girl named Miss Elaina.  Those of you who grew up on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood back in the day will recall this figure:

LadyElaine1 Deconstructing Daniel Tiger or Why Childrens Programming Is Freaking Me Out, Man

That’s Lady Elaine Fairchilde.  Probably the puppet most directly influenced by old Punch & Judy shows.  Voiced by Fred Rogers (a fact that my mother attributes to his mental sanity, since it allowed him to cut loose a little) Lady Elaine was the antagonist of the show.  Not necessarily the villain, but she liked to stir things up.  She was sort of the closest thing they had to a bad guy.  Well credit to the creators of the show because somebody somewhere took a look at this . . .

LadyElaine2 Deconstructing Daniel Tiger or Why Childrens Programming Is Freaking Me Out, Man

. . . and said to themselves, “You know what she needs?  A hot husband.”  Batta bing, meet the new happy family.

LadyElaine3 500x476 Deconstructing Daniel Tiger or Why Childrens Programming Is Freaking Me Out, Man

Lady Elaine has been paired with Music Man Stan (who actually dates back to the original show).  They cut back on her eye make-up and toned down that red nose.  Then they gave her a daughter named Miss Elaina, which is sort of awesome since they’re essentially calling her Lady Elaine Jr.  Miss Elaina calls everyone “Toots” just like her mom did.  Seriously.

Am I the only one who finds the reinterpretation of Lady Elaine just a bit odd?  She sort of lost her drive, since this show doesn’t deal in plots long enough to include baddies.  Her daughter’s downright sweet as well.  In fact the whole show feels like a combination of Dora the Explorer and the original Fred Rogers creation.  Still and all, it’s interesting, particularly when you take into account the attention to detail the creators of this show have paid to the original.  At times it’s actually a bit unnerving.  It’s not just Daniel Striped Tiger’s watch.  Read through the Wikipedia page and you’ll learn that the neighborhood doctor is Dr. Anna and “Though human, she shares many characteristics of the platypus family of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: their patriarch, Bill Platypus was the neighborhood physician and spoke with a foreign accent (Scottish, in his case), and his daughter was named Ana.”  There are other examples as well, which means that somebody on the staff sat down and watched untold numbers of episodes of the original Mister Rogers program just to make these connections.

Anyone with small kids knows that if you watch enough children’s programming you start to create alternate narrative to the one on the screen so as to maintain sanity.  Back in the day my mother really rooted for Maria and David to hook up on Sesame Street, only for the show to go the predictable route of pairing her with Luis instead.  The same can be true for this show. For example,  Daniel Striped Tiger apparently works in the “Clock Factory” where he grew up.  Take that one step further and you can create a kind of Hugo Cabret childhood for him.  Living by himself in a clock.  Never really leaving.  Sad, really.

All told though it’s a good show.  We’ve actually used it with our daughter and it worked wonders when it came to getting a shot at the doctor’s office or waiting somewhere (though it was completely and utterly ineffective in terms of getting her to try new foods).

If you’ve other points about the peculiarities of this show, feel free to pass them along.  I’m all ears.

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11 Comments on Deconstructing Daniel Tiger or Why Children’s Programming Is Freaking Me Out, Man, last added: 6/26/2014
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2. Fusenews: My proverbial hat tastes like flan

I was going to spend a lot of time on this Fusenews.  Then I picked up Doug TenNapel’s Cardboard and lost most of my evening in the process.  So it goes.  I really am going to have to be brief today.  To sum up:

The Battle of the (Kids’) Books rages on in earnest!  Wish I’d submitted my bracket this year.  So far the winners make sense to me.

  • Opinions I do not share.  #1: “Here is a list of eleven children’s books that still have value in a writer’s adult years.”  I might agree with you if you meant that Rainbow Fish makes for an excellent source of protein. #2: “Ten Tips for Avoiding Terrible Children’s Books.”  This may actually be the strangest collection of children’s book-related advice I’ve seen in years.  I live in hope that I misread it and that this is all the stuff you’re supposed to avoid, not do.
  • Stephen Fry + a pub called The Hobbit = lawsuit city.  Actually, you don’t even need the Stephen Fry part.
  • It’s spine poem time!  With Poetry Month right around the corner you just know you want to partake.  Spine poem it up!
  • Of course THIS month is Women’s History Month.  So I wrote a little guest blog piece just for the occasion where I noted the little known historical heroines making their debut in juvenile print this year.
  • Speaking of apps n’ such, did you know that over in Italy where the Bologna Book Fair takes place there is now a Bologna Ragazzi Digital Award?  In incredibly good idea.  International apps.  A whole new world.
  • New Blog Alert: New to me anyway.  We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie which describes itself as “Being a Compendium of Children’s Books by Twentieth Century ‘Adult’ Authors Currently Out of Print”.  It’s beautifully done.  Go see.
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3. Video Sunday: “Yesterday I bought a Volvo”

When a video has reached over two million views, it’s usually safe to assume that everyone has seen it.  However, there’s always the possibility that you have not, so with that in mind what better way to start off today’s Video Sunday then by looking at books with a sense of rhythm?  This is the kind of thing that clearly puts the “labor” in the term “labor of love”.

Now as a great number of you know, Monday morning we’ll see the announcement of the Newberys, the Caldecotts, and all the other awards ALA hands out each year.  Seems appropriate then to post a video of past Newbery winners.  First up, this amazing look at Virginia Hamilton, the woman behind the Newbery winning M.C. Higgins the Great (amongst other things).  I am ashamed to say that before I saw this I had no idea that Jaime Adoff was her son.  Ye gods!  The video also features Jean Craighead George of Julie of the Wolves.  You get a glimpse of her Newbery Medal in its velvet case at one point.

Open Road Media made these to sell the ebooks.  Nice covers too.  Check out the one for Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush.  Print publishers should take notes.

Now to look at some hardcore bookshelves.  Here in America we’ve these wimpy little bookshelves that anyone can reach.  In Berlin?  You need a freakin’ harness to get what you want.

Thanks to Swiss Miss for the link.

So I couldn’t resist checking out this SNL skit on Harry Potter ten years later.  Dan Radcliff, man.  That guy’s funny.  Though part of my brain is just amazed that SNL had the budget for that set.

And finally, for our off-topic video of the day, it’s time for breakdancing.  With Mr. Rogers.  Yep.

Thanks to Margaret H. Willison for the link.

5 Comments on Video Sunday: “Yesterday I bought a Volvo”, last added: 1/23/2012
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4. Linked Up: MoMA, Oprah, marshmallows

I went to the MoMA and…”saw a coat closet trash and two water fouintains I’m very disapointed I did not see  a dinosaur you call your self a museum![MoMA]

Cute alert: Goose looks after blind dog [Metro]

Apparently, James Frey will be a guest on the final Oprah [NYPost]

Most Americans can’t name a GOP presidential candidate [CBS]

Notes from Chris

CHART: Gay marriage opponents now in minority [FiveThirtyEight]

Curious what $110 of Lucky Charms marshmallows looks like? [Reddit]

Some fascinating facts about Mr. Rogers [Tumblr]

This is a video of little boys with incredible dance skills [YouTube]

Last Friday, I challenged all of our readers to write a sestina. I expect many of you discovered just how difficult this form can be. I’d like to highlight the poem I received from Paul Gallear of Wolverhampton, UK. Paul is one of the voices behind the Artsy Does It blog and you can follow him @paulgallear.

I’m a dirty-shirted mess.
My eyes are heavy and thick
With fatigue; I’ve not slept for days
And I’ve never been so tired.
All I need to do is sleep,
Long and deep and numb.

My thoughts are thoughtless, numb;
My skin, greasy; my hair, a mess.
Things change without sleep:
I’ve become listless, thick
And stupid – I’m idiot tired,
Living in a stunned daze.

Time moves from hours to days
And perspective becomes numb.
Beyond tired.
My mind begins to mess
Around. There’s a kind of thick
Which only comes from lack of sleep.

I daydream of sleep.
Waiting – the hours the days
Crawl as though caught in thick
Honey, drowsy, lethargic and numb.
While they are mired in that mess,
I grow more weary, more tired.

One day, I won’t be tired.
The time will come for sleep.
When I am enough of a mess,
And my dignity went days
Ago, I won’t care. I’ll be numb
And sleep will be long and thick.

I hope the night is black and thick
And that even the moon and the stars are tired.
They can make their lights numb
And pale to help me sleep.
The sun will shorten the days
To help me out of this mess

If the night is thick, I’ll sleep.
I’m so tired, it’ll be for days.
Until then, I’m one numb mess.

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5. Mr. Rogers


6 Comments on Mr. Rogers, last added: 3/3/2010
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6. Day 24 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Implications

A comforting high-five from Mr. Rogers.

Of course, I get angry. Of course, I get sad. I have a full range of emotions. I also have a whole smorgasbord of ways of dealing with my feelings. That is what we should give children. Give them ... ways to express their rage without hurting themselves or somebody else. That's what the world needs. Fred Rogers

I hope that you explore many ways of dealing with feelings with your craft today and in the days to come. For me, books were the key. I learned to navigate my emotions in the pages of books. I hope you take your work seriously and give it the time and attention it deserves. Think about the implications -- your work is going to steady the future of many children. If you don't do it, some child might be less. That ought to light a fire under you.

Here's a little message from one of my life-long friends (I didn't really know Mr. Rogers; watch the video and you will get it.)

Last of all, think about attending the Seattle Kid-Lit Drink Night...

"Did you do Molly Blaisdell’s Golden Coffee Cup Challenge? NANOWRIMO? Did you make any kind of writing and/or illustrating goal in November?

If you hit the jackpot…if you plodded along…even if you didn’t take a single step…come to celebrate and hang out with your peers at our own Kidlit Drink Night! November 30th at Broadway Grill in Seattle (on Broadway in Capitol Hill, across from the QFC – 328-7000) at 5:30pm. Cash bar. Molly will be giving out the Golden Coffee Cup awards (Don't worry if you're from out of town, you don't have to be present to win. "

Street parking is available, or you can park at QFC for a small parking fee (or get your ticket validated by making a purchase).

Questions? Go to Holly Cupala's blog or ask me. :) Hope to see you!

0 Comments on Day 24 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Implications as of 1/1/1900
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