I watch every show on PBS Kids (except Caillou) Part 4

Hello from North Haven!

It actually FEELS like spring, finally! So we’ve been outside a lot more, and watching a lot less PBS Kids lately, which is great! It also means that tick checks have started up again, during which my darling, precious, dainty daughter “tooted” directly in my face and then laughed so hard she threw up a little.

So anyway, here’s the MEH round of PBS Kids reviews. These shows won’t turn your kids into rude maniacs, or send them to you begging for a trip to Toys Backwards R Us (may its memory be a blessing), they’re just not my favorites. But you might love them!

Turn the tv off and go to the playground!

Bob the Builder: Big talking vehicles, life lessons, etc. To be fair, my Bob the Builder sample size is very small. I know several families whose kids are devotees of the show. But in the few episodes I watched, Wendy (who I understand received a promotion from office assistant to electrical specialist, which is cool) brought the food for everybody, all the time. Cake. Sandwiches. Why does everyone expect the woman to take care of the snacks? Gender representation: Ok, some female humans and vehicles; Racial representation: Ok; Annoyance factor: mildly annoying; Penrose review: <3 <3

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That: Famous anarchist takes kids to strange lands to test scientific principles. This show is ok. I liked it better when I thought that Sally and Nick were siblings in an interracial family with two moms, but it turns out they’re just neighbors. I am also one of those moms who finds the Cat in the Hat to be a little creepy. But Penrose enjoys it, and I’ve noticed that she retains some of the principles she learns from the show, like water’s tendency to flow downhill. Gender representation: ok; Racial representation: ok; Annoyance factor: mildly annoying; Penrose review: <3 <3 <3

Clifford the Big Red Dog: Social-emotional lessons, lots of dogs. This is a classic, and it’s not bad. However, lately PBS Kids has only had clips of episodes on the streaming app. I like dogs, and I like that it’s set on a island, but for social-emotional stuff, nothing beats Mr. Rogers, original Sesame Street, and DanielGender representation: ok; Racial representation: ok; Annoyance factor: tolerable; Penrose review: <3 <3 <3

Cyberchase: Problem-solving and math skills in an animated adventure context. This is another one I have a small sample-size for. The math reasoning was good – the episode I saw tackled the problem of too much waste being generated in Cyberspace, and used bar graphing to show how much could be rerouted into reusing, recycling and compost. The story was a little hard to follow, and I didn’t learn much about the characters as I watched. It’s probably a good one for when Pen’s a little older. Gender representation: ok: Racial representation: ok; Annoyance factor: tolerable; Penrose review: <3 <3

Dinosaur Train: Social-emotional learning and dinosaur facts brought to you by a Tyrannosaurus raised by Pteranodons. This is very popular in the dinosaur-loving set, and Pen is no exception. And I don’t mind it either, other than the animation. What is with the bad CGI look for some cartoons? Why? It’s very informative, though, and the blended family message is nice (from my perspective! What do people in blended families think?) Gender representation: good; Racial representation: n/a, all dinosaurs; Annoyance factor: tolerable; Penrose review: <3 <3 <3 

Fizzy’s Lunch Lab: Healthy food messaging in short animated segments. True to PBS’ mission, Fizzy’s Lunch Lab exists to fill what might be an information gap for some families. Rather than reading, math, or science, Fizzy delivers information about healthy eating. It definitely serves a purpose, but didn’t especially hook us in. Gender representation: ok; Racial representation: ok; Annoyance factor: tolerable; Penrose review: <3

Pinkalicious & Peteriffic: Social-emotional and creative play, lots of pink. I have to go on the record saying that a) I have no problem with girls wearing and liking pink, and b) Penrose thinks this is an absolutely outstanding show. But it just isn’t doing it for me. Pinkalicious is kind of annoyingly unaware of other people’s feelings, the magical elements feel forced, and the songs are eh. The best episode, one where a series of mishaps turn homemade wrapping paper into a full-fledged painting, shows the creative potential of mistakes, but otherwise I was hard pressed to figure out what the underlying message of any episode was (it’s ok to steal your mom’s invention as long as you apologize? if you poorly manage your time your friends will cover for you?) Gender representation: good; Racial representation: ok; Annoyance factor: mildly annoying; Penrose review: <3 <3 <3 <3

This is getting super long, so I’ll do a second MEH list soon. In the meantime, go outside! (Not in the thunder though. And do a tick check!)

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!