I watch every show on PBS Kids (except Caillou) part 3: good stuff

Hello from North Haven!

We’ve just come back from a nice long vacation, which I’ll probably write about, and today is my birthday (the big 3 – 7!), but I want to return to my reviews of every show on PBS Kids (except Caillou) before we get to those perhaps more exciting (certainly more self indulgent) topics.

This installment is Good Stuff: Shows we like, but which haven’t quite clicked for Pen yet because they’re a little too old for her, or have subtitles, or other reasons.

Playing outside is another very, very important thing to do that isn’t watching television!

Martha Speaks: Talking dog gives vocabulary and social emotional lessons. I like this show a lot. The characters are a little unpredictable, which is nice, and I’m especially fond of the girl who loves hockey, wears cargo pants, and also happens to love ballet. Martha, the talking dog, still acts like a dog, and pals around with other, non-verbal canines. The vocabulary lessons can feel a little forced, and Penrose hasn’t retained anything from the few times we’ve watched, but she asks for it every once in a while. I think in a few years this will be a favorite. Racial representation: ok; Gender representation: good; Annoyance factor: enjoyable; Penrose review: <3 <3

Sci Girls: Spanish-language show featuring animated and real Latina girls and women involved in science. I didn’t know what to expect when Pen asked to watch Sci Girls, but in a few years I hope she goes back to it. The subtitled show is entirely in Spanish, and the episode we watched followed female students at a school in Puerto Rico exploring biomes at a tree’s roots, trunk and canopy. Until Penrose can read, or speak Spanish, it’s probably out of the rotation, but I’m glad the show exists. Racial representation: all Latinx; Gender representation: all female as far as we saw; Annoyance factor: enjoyable; Penrose review: <3 

Arthur: Familiar characters tackle tough issues in surprising ways. From time to time, Penrose goes through an Arthur phase, and I’m always glad when she does. In addition to the friendly, familiar animal characters, the show goes out of its way to address tough issues, such as natural disasters. It also won me over completely with an episode featuring the Bang On a Can All Stars, a contemporary music ensemble whom I never expected to see on an animated kids’ show. Racial representation: N/A, all animal characters; Gender representation: good, 50/50; Annoyance factor: enjoyable; Penrose review: <3 <3 <3

Odd SquadLive-action problem solving show with goofy scenarios and math skills. Penrose and I haven’t spent a lot of time with Odd Squad yet, as she currently prefers her sneaky math and vocab lessons animated, but we liked what we saw. It’s silly, it demonstrates collaboration, there are women of science but also women of action, and has a vibe similar to Square One TV, the live action math show of my youth. I think it’s a little old for Pen at the moment, but we’ll come back to it. Racial representation: ok; Gender representation: good, 50/50; Annoyance factor: enjoyable; Penrose review: <3 <3

That’s all for this installment! Weigh in with comments if you love or hate any of these shows. Next time on Every show on PBS Kids (except Caillou): The “meh” factor.

Courtney Naliboff

About Courtney Naliboff

In addition to this blog, I'm a contributing writer to kveller.com, a Jewish parenting site, a blogger and book reviewer for reformjudaism.org, and the author of Salt Water Cure, a column in Working Waterfront. I report news from North Haven for Working Waterfront and Island Journal, and was a speaker at the Maine Conference for Jewish Life in 2015. Follow Frozen Chosen on facebook or visit my Web site for more writing and free music to download!