Archive for January, 2011

Time Shift Your TV: January 31 – February 6

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Do you  remember Art Linkletter and his questions to kids on a show called Art Linkletter’s House Party? It aired on television from 1945 to 1969. Bill Cosby revived the idea in series called Kids Say the Darndest Things, from 1998-2000. This week, supermodel and Project Runway host Heidi Klum is picking up the concept in Seriously Funny Kids, premiering on Lifetime at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 1. Heidi can be pretty uninhibited herself, so it should make for amusing and light-hearted television.

I’m a sucker for anything having to do with the brain. So I’ll be tuning in to NOVA’s new one-hour show How Does The Brain Work? Airing on Wednesday, Feb. 2, at 8 p.m., the PBS show will explore new science that may help reveal how the brain allows us to think, act, feel, behave and process the world around us. This show is part of a new six-episode series that kicked off in January called NOVA scienceNOW. It is tackling six big questions in six specially themed episodes, hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Questions yet to air include: How Smart Are Animals? Where Did We Come From? and What’s the Next Big Thing?

The next big thing on TV this week will be Sunday’s Super Bowl, kicking off at 6:30 p.m. on Fox (although pre-shows seem to start hours before that). Last year, more than 100 million people tuned in for the game, the ads and the halftime show. The Black Eyed Peas will take the field for that this year, giving a presumably family-friendly performance.  Following the Super Bowl, Fox will air a special Glee episode that promises to include a dance to Michael Jackson’s Thriller and a guest appearance by Katie Couric.

Girl Power

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Lately, I’ve found myself pining for the good old days. When I look at the various shows on TV now, I don’t see any really positive female characters. Sure, there are some that I like and enjoy, but if I scratch the surface for deeper meaning, life analogies, identifiable, empowering young female characters, I come up empty.  What is out there for young girls? Think about it, do you really want your daughter to emulate a Kardashian? Or Snooki? Are the Gossip Girls relatable to anyone you know? Several channels geared toward young viewers often churn out young female stars, and lots of young girls want to dress and look like them. Still, their shows are just vehicles for stardom and not really a deep reflection of what it means to be a young and female.  Recently, I started collecting some ideas for shows I would like my daughter to watch.  What are your favorite girl power shows?

Daria (1996)

Before MTV became the bastion of outrageous teen behavior, it had this thoughtful, funny, animated show (with a great soundtrack) about the life of slightly misanthropic teenage girl.

My So-Called Life (1994)

Often listed on best-of lists, the show hit the perfect dramatic, realistic teenage pitch and introduced the world to Claire Danes.

Veronica Mars (2004)

Sort of modern day version of Nancy Drew, it combines mystery and drama with moving interpersonal relationships amidst the pitfalls of high school life.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997)

Another name frequent on best-of lists, this show was about so much more than monsters. Fallible characters in search of redemption–Buffy is a must on the search for girl powered TV.

About the Author: Grace Lin

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Great children’s authors, illustrators, and musicians put a wealth of thought and experience into their work.  In the weeks to

come, we’ll feature interviews and performances from some of our winners.

For Grace Lin, a 2009 Parents’ Choice Gold Award winner, success did not come easy.  Before publishing her first book, the RISD graduate was a “really, really miserable” employee at a giftware company known for its t-shirts and mugs stamped with corny phrases like  “World’s Best Dad” and “Did Any One Tell You Today That You’re Terrific?” .  When laid off from this job, Lin found new motivation to dive into the publishing world in search of success and recognition.

In Parents’ Choice Silver Award-winning site Reading Rockets‘ interview with Lin, the author and illustrator describes her hard work toward a creative career and the effect her Chinese background had on her later writings.  It’s an inspiring video that will appeal to new and experienced readers alike.  Stick to its end to hear Lin read a passage from “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon”, her Parents’ Choice Award winning novel.

Time Shift Your TV: January 24 – 30

Monday, January 24th, 2011

If you’ve got teens or tweens in your family, you may have heard about last week’s Monday night debut of MTV’s racy Skins series, an American version of a popular British show featuring teens simulating sex, drinking, using drugs and more. It has caused quite a controversy. On Thursday, the Parents Television Council called on the chairmen of the U.S. Senate and House Judiciary Committees and the Department of Justice to open an investigation into the show, charging that it’s child pornography and exploitation since the youngest cast member is 15. Following the PTC protest, Taco Bell and Wrigley pulls its ads from the show. It’s another example of a series that’s pushing the envelope.

On a lighter note, we highly recommend that the little ones in your family check out Nickelodeon’s new series, Bubble Guppies. It’s from the makers of The Backyardigans and features a colorful group of six pre-school guppies in “an epic quest for knowledge.” In the first half-hour episode, titled “Call a Clambulance,” one fish’s friend falls off his tricycle and breaks his tail. Preschoolers can learn all about the doctor, bones and X-rays. Other topics will include dinosaurs, dentists, colors and cowboys. The characters are adorable and the setting is perfect for teaching without preaching. Bubble Guppies premieres Monday morning, Jan. 24, on Nickelodeon at 11 a.m.

Mean Girls and Boys

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

This month, ABC Family debuts Mean Girls 2, the sequel to the 2004 Lindsey Lohan movie. The original film, a social satire written by Emmy-winner Tina Fey, took a look at the brutal warfare that can go on between girls, all under the guise of friendship. And while it seems a little strange to look back on Lindsay Loan’s career fondly, this new sequel lacks any of the insight or heart of the original. It does bring viewers back to the  national conversation about bullying. The key to remember is that bullying comes in many forms– for the teen boy, it is usually about black eyes and bruised egos and for girls, it can be much more subtle. Sometimes Hollywood does get it right. Here are few movies that would be a great way to jump start a conversation with your kids about the pressures of school, including bullies.

Mean Girls (2004). 13 and older. A new transfer to a cliquish high school learns that life in the wild jungles of Africa are far safer than high school..

My Bodyguard (1980) 10 and older. A young boy hires the school’s most feared student to defend himself against a relentless bully.

Napoleon Dynamite (2004) 10 and older.  Already considered a classic, this is an empowering take on the high school outcasts and their desire to take on the established pecking order.

The Outsiders (1983) 10 and older. An all-star cast brings to life the classic S. E. Hinton novel about small town warfare between the haves and have nots.