Max and Ruby – Brotherly Love

Overview of the show: Max and Ruby are cartoon sibling rabbits that play and live together. The show is aimed at pre-schoolers and each episode is split into 3 short self-contained stories.

Together they cooperate in their activities – often Ruby will want to do something creative or perform chores, while Max will (sometimes unwillingly) assist his sister in whatever the endeavour entails.
The show is somewhat simply animated – the characters move about like paper cut-outs but it is pleasant without being overly complicated.

The primary focus of Max and Ruby is about brotherhood/sisterhood – being able to have fun and get along with siblings, no matter the age.

Little Bear – friends matter

Little Bear is a cartoon series for toddlers about anthropomorphic woodland animals. The episodes are short and intended for easy consumption by young children.

The eponymous hero is Little Bear, a grizzly bear cub who has fun with his friends, rain or shine. His friends all have the same name as their species – Owl, Duck, Hen, Cat, Frog – except for Emily, who is one of the few humans in the show.

The stories are simple tales about friendship and play games with others; to cooperate, be thoughtful and considerate of others’ feelings.


The Koala Brothers – giving a mate a hand

Overview of the show: The Koala Brothers is an Australian cartoon show about two brothers, the koalas Frank and Buster, who live in a small rural town. Together the two of them fly a plane around the outback and solve problems they can spot from the air.

The cast is a menagerie of native Australian fauna, including echidnas, crocodiles, platypi and emus. Each episode, Frank and Buster assist the citizens in the Outback; the major theme of the show is of charity and generosity – to be kind and help out your friends whenever you can. The characters are distinct and very humanly flawed; part of the show is overcoming one’s own foibles in order to be compassionate.

Koala Brothers is a good choice for international audiences especially, as it introduces the aforementioned themes as well as culture and settings.


Jack’s Big Music Show – for love of the song

Overview of the show: Jack’s Big Music Show is aimed at toddlers and infants, and features dog-like puppets who sing and dance like a rock band. The main characters are Jack, Mary and Mel, all of whom play a different instrument.

The primary purpose of the show is to encourage a love for music; it is the favorite activity for all of the main characters and every episode features several music videos and new songs. Jack’s Big Music Show is a mixture of entertainment and education – the characters work together to solve problems, teach basic numeracy, literacy, social and motor skills. However, the primary value is in its entertainment – the puppets are amusing, interesting to watch and fun to listen to.


Bannanas In Pajamas – It’s Teddies Time!

Age Levels targeted:

2-5

 Background:

 Bananas in Pajamas is an Australian show; a spin-off from a British series called Play School. The show features real people (albeit dressed in costumes) wearing costumes ala Barney, the Bear in the Big Blue House, or the Teletubbies and has hundreds of episodes At this point the show has already been syndicated and many of the titles are available on DVD in multiple languages. The reason for this is that despite its Aussie and UK roots, the program has long since become aired and syndicated in dozens of countries and translated into numerous languages.

The show mixes dialogue and narration with a nice helping of catchy original music and lyrics. The Bannanas are always getting into unexpected scrapes with their mischievous behavior but ultimately manage to extricate themselves while they (and by extension their youthful TV audience) learn a valuable social lesson.

Overview of the show: The twin bananas, B1 and B2, gallivant about in their striped pajamas with their friends the teddy bears. They all have fun and play games while also learning lessons about social interactions and how to treat each other properly making it a perfect show to watch with your kids and discuss how they view the Bananas actions and decisions.

 The Main Characters

B1 and B2 – The title stars of the show, the Bannanas are a pair of mischievous if well meaning bananas who get up to various spirited hi-jinks together with their friends Lulu, Amy and Morgan; the teddy bear family. Sometimes the pranks they pull are at the expense of their friend Rat. The Bannanas, as noted in their theme song enjoy “chasing teddy bears.” However in their eagerness to “catch them unawares” they often cause themselves more mischief than the bears. Bears and Bannanas enjoy singing, playing games, dancing, and having parties among their events. They’re always dressed in striped pajamas which is the source of their name.

The Bananas often come up with ideas which even when they seem good at first tend to eventually highlight a basic flaw in them such as in the clip below where they come up with a plan to replace Lulu’s garden gnomes.

These plans are generally adopted by mutual consent as evidenced by the routine that generally precedes the plan whereby one banana will inevitably say to the other ‘are you thinking what I’m thinking?’ to which the other unfailingly replies ‘I think I am’ before they rush off to try to put their thoughts into actions.

The Teddies – the 2 teddy bears, Amy, Morgan and Lulu aren’t (despite the theme song) generally being chased by the Bannanas (other than on Tuesday which is Teddy the official chasing day) so much as having tricks played on them by the Bananas. The Teddies are generally more sensible than the Bannanas and often help them out of their scrapes though throughout the series individual Teddies themselves often take center stage in the show as a mistake they make affects themselves and/or their surroundings.

Rat (in a hat) – Far from being fun and playful, Rat, (a.k.a. “Rat in a hat”) is a serious business type who owns the local shop. He thinks himself to be quite clever and as such is an easy and fun mark for the Bananas in many of their pranks. He’s quite obsessed with money and the cost of things and obtaining them and the show portrays these traits in a negative manner with Rat’s greed making him an easy target for a prank or otherwise ending up to his detriment.

Types of skills the show teaches:

The show is socially oriented and revolves around the relationships between the characters as they interact in their daily life and fun. Parents can focus with their children on such relationship issues such as trust, honesty and friendship. Quite often one of the characters will make a faux pas by lying or cheating at a game, and will eventually be forced to admit their error. In the course of working through the consequences of their actions a child can see both the process of succumbing to temptations and going astray as well as the process of ultimately deciding to fix the results of their actions.

On the other hand even while showing the error in trying to cover up one’s mistakes the show is also emphatic about showing kids that a mistake in and of itself isn’t a tragedy and can even work out for the best in a way that never would have happened if not for the original mistake such as when the Bananas make a mess of manning Rat’s new TV station.

Having owned up to it they discover seconds later that the off the top of their head song they used to try and cover their bumbling has turned the station into the most popular station in town.

Site review:

Bannanas in pajamas is a typical representative of Australian kids tv shows. The episodes are lively, amusing and fast paced with clear efficiently relayed morals. The episodes are short (outside of the DVD specials most episodes last no more than 5-10 minutes tops) and to the point and easily understood by its target audience. The characters are lovable and parents will feel relaxed about their kids watching it with no fear of inappropriate content.

The show is especially good for parents wanting to focus with their children on specific social and moral lessons as the show always focuses on relationship issues like friendship, fairness, greed, honesty, cheating et al. Most importantly it teaches kids about the importance of owning up to one’s flaws and mistakes and endeavoring to correct them and the error in thinking one can cover up one’s wrong actions from those affected.

My kids review:

My kids enjoyed this show a great deal but for the most part only within the age appropriate years (as opposed to some other shows which they’ll still go back to even once they’ve outgrown the target audience age) but at the target age they really liked it a lot. They were fascinated by the Bannanas accents (while not all the preschool TV they attached was American the majority was and the different pronunciations and occasional word usage different from American usage caught their fancy). They particularly enjoyed the episode about the wish fairies as did I since after all if there are wish fairies then my claim to them that there’s such a thing as the tooth fairy became perfectly logical. J At times even after the appropriate age a Bannanas episode would be brought in for reference purposes (it’s just like when B1 and B2 couldn’t decide whether to etc.”) between themselves.

 Anecdotal:

My kids were each into this show at a younger age. The theme song is very catchy and they loved singing it and sometimes changing the words. Even we, the parents were guilty of this at times replacing the lyrics with a song about the child who was into it and what we wanted him/her to do so that they would then do it.

 Similar shows

 Barney, Bear in the Big Blue House