Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Spring 2017 Television
Ages: 2 - 5 yrs.
Producer: Amazon Studios
Rating: TV Y

This award-winning British television series has been around in the United Kingdom since 2009 but it premiered on Amazon Prime Video in fall of 2016 in both the UK and the US. The half-hour program combines puppetry, live-action characters, and CGI animation. Series creator Lucy Goodman said in a press interview that she was inspired to make Bookaboo to promote the benefits of adults and children reading together.

Here, Bookaboo (a dog puppet) is a world-famous drummer who, along with globe-trotting bandmates Paws and Growler, plays to sold-out stadiums. The only hitch is that Bookaboo is one of those temperamental artists and he petulantly demands, "A story a day or I just can't play!" He even throws rock-star worthy tantrums - taking the form of songs and comedy skits - to avoid going on stage.

Enter the celebrity guest tantrum slayer. Each episode welcomes two well-known visitors who go backstage to read to Bookaboo. In addition to the usual actors and singers one might expect, other celebs range from NASA astronaut Chris Hadfield to Pittsburgh Steeler Antonio Brown. Their expressive and entertaining read-alouds are enriched with lively animated touches and brief interruptions by Bookaboo, who asks exactly the same kind of questions your own kids would interrupt a bedtime story to ask.

In "Bookaboo's Howl-O-Ween," actress Selma Blair reads Princess Daisy and the Dragon and the Nincompoop Knights. It works for the first gig and Bookaboo performs but, alas, Halloween antics leave Bookaboo too unsettled to sleep and it's up to another celebrity guest, actor Guillermo Diaz (best known for his role on the ABC drama Scandal) to calm him down by reading Turkey Trick or Treat.

In another episode, a tongue-in-cheek wrestling sequence pits Bookaboo against WWE champion Adan Copeland (a.k.a Edge), who later reads Monsters Love Underpants. Then, actress Emmanuelle Chirqui (Entourage) reads I Don't Want to be a Frog. A good book always does the trick for Bookaboo and the program ends with an energetic Bookaboo performance, concluding with the drum-lovin' dog asking, "Have you shared a book today?" A sign "on stage" even reinforces the show's literacy angle by noting that "1,000 books per episode will be donated by Bookaboo Productions to children in need."

The show's energetic vibe, with genuinely funny gags and a quick pace, will keep viewers tuned in. They'll love the music, skits, and skillfully animated storybooks, which are cleverly rendered in the style of the original illustrations and read with great inflection by the celebrity guests. In Bookaboo's world, and ours, reading rocks.

Gina Catanzarite   ©2017 Parents' Choice
Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 9 Emmy awards, 26 Emmy nominations, a Matrix award, two Pennsylvania Broadcaster's Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.

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