A review of Noggin’s ”Pinky Dinky Doo,” and more
Pinky Dinky Doo
(Noggin, weekdays at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. ET)
If your preschooler is tired of Dora the Explorer, consider moving on to Pinky Dinky Doo. The fuchsia-haired 7-year-old also goes on adventures, but they’re usually in her imagination. When Pinky?s brother, Tyler Dinky Doo, is sick or bored, she?ll make up a story to cheer him up faster than you can say ”Yesirooney, positooney.” Based on the whimsical book series by Jim Jinkins, Pinky aims to teach, but unlike Dora, the repetition involved in the lessons is barely noticeable.
Each episode of the animated series consists of two 8-minute stories, followed by call-and-response interactive games. ”Eat It, or Wear It?” asks children to figure out if something is edible or wearable. And a ”Which Came First?” scenario invites them to put a story into the right sequence, a skill that kindergartners need to practice.
Within the stories themselves, which are charming, children learn a special word, sounded out with a trumpet. (”Frustrated. That?s how you feel when you don?t get to do what you want,” explains one of the Dinky Doos.) The stories also encourage kids to think logically about how to solve problems: When Pinky is struck by the ”polka-dot pox,” will her mother (a) tell her to spin like a top so the dots will fall off; (b) put mashed potatoes on her face to cover the dots; or (c) tell her to rest so she can get better?
Pinky Dinky Doo embraces storytelling and revs up the imagination — so it certainly pays to think Pink for a while. A — Eileen Clarke
Recommended ages: 3-8
Girl Authority (CD, Zoe Records, $9.98)
This group of tweens does cover songs, just like the half-pints in the wildly popular Kidz Bop series, and kids all over the country will probably be lip-synching to these versions during gymnastics class or at the bowling alley. Like its precedessors, this CD runs the gamut from the innocent-enough (”Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and ”Dancing Queen”) to the not-so-innocent (from ”Material Girl”: ”Some boys kiss me/ Some boys hug me…”) to the weirdly inappropriate (from ”Don’t Worry ‘Bout a Thing”: ”We’ve all got a little junk in the trunk”).
The new slant here is that this is an all-female group, complete with Spice Girl-ish monikers: Fashion Girl, Urban Girl, and All-Star Girl (read: sporty). It’s hard for an adult (er, Mature Girl) to listen to a compilation like this and not compare it to the originals — so in the interest of being fair, I’ve enlisted a verifiable tween, 13-year-old Halle Cannon, to share her thoughts: ”I’m not crazy about Kidz Bop, but the girls of Girl Authority are horrible! The only good one is Tarr, the ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Girl,’ who sings ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot.’ Give them all about 4 years and they’ll be great.” C- — Eileen Clarke
Recommended ages: 8-12
The Cat’s Meow
By Warren Kimble (Walker, $16.99)
Beginning readers just starting to sound out words will be delighted by this compendium of cats created by folk artist Kimble. Cats recline on rugs (”Mat cat”), slumber next to mice (”Lazy cat”), and so on, each illustration as blocky, simple, and charming as the last. A — Tina Jordan
Recommended ages: 4-7
Can You See What I See?: Dinosaurs
By Walter Wick (Scholastic, $4.99)
What is it about dinosaurs? They inspire seemingly endless fascination. This chunky board book is a wonderful introduction for the littlest dinosaur lovers; it features vivid photos of realistic plastic-model dinosaurs, jaws agape, lumbering through deserts, pausing under palm trees, and swimming in ponds. A — Tina Jordan
Recommended ages: 1-4
By Cynthia Kadohata (Atheneum, $16.95)
Kadohata’s last novel, Kira Kira, swept all the major literary awards and marked her as a writer to watch. And her new book, Weedflower, doesn’t disappoint: Sumiko, a 12-year-old Japanese-American girl born and raised on a flower farm in California, is sent with her family to an internment camp in the Mojave Desert soon after Pearl Harbor. The camp, it turns out, is situated smack in the middle of an Indian reservation, and the Indians are none too happy with their new neighbors. Bored, lonely, hot, and choked by the endless dust storms, Sumiko meets a Mojave Indian boy, Frank, and — once they finally begin to talk — discovers his situation is not so different from hers:
”So what happened to your farm?” he asks her.
”I mean gone for us. A lot of people lost everything they had during the evacuation.” She hugged her knees to her chest.
He shrugged. ”You’re not the first people to lose things.”
Weedflower isn’t the first novel to tackle the ugly realities of the wartime Japanese-American internment camps (and Indian reservations), but it’s certainly one of the finest. Kadohata’s spare, lovely images stayed in my head long after I turned the last page. And my 11-year-old was so entranced that she finished the book in a single sitting. A — Tina Jordan
Recommended ages: 11 and up