Booples: How can I best explain this series?
The characters look like a cross between the Simpsons, Teletubbies, and Hershey's kisses; they sound like the guys from King of the Hill; and they say things you might expect to hear at an Awana meeting. Really fun combination!
This funny little indie cartoon exhibits the typical problems of a first-time film. The characters move very little, scenes are repeated, songs are repeated, and there is a general lack of a compelling story line. But what do you expect for a series that targets ages two through four? Despite all of it's shortcomings (and most indie cartoons have these very same problems), I did appreciate several things about it.
1. It's funny. Despite the simple content and messages, the voices and characters made me laugh. I had to go back and read the return address on the DVD to find out where these guys were from. Texas, of course. And honestly, the characters grew on me. The second time around, the funny little "old guy" voices transformed into "fun, quirky voices" that my kids seem to love.
2. It's simple, yet complex. The stories are VERY short (five minutes each), and deal with one simple issue each. This keeps the focus on the main idea. At the same time, they deal with complicated issues. The stories use concrete images to demonstrate traditionally complex spiritual concepts. Finding a straight path, loving God by loving others, and materialism vs. treasures in heaven are complicated issues even for adults.
3. The Bible is the authority. Instead of using a person to teach the biblical truths, the spiritual guru of the film, "Baaa" (an appropriately named sheep), whips out his Bible and reads from the source. This is a good lesson to children that people aren't the ultimate authorities for their spiritual walks. Without overtly saying so, the story reinforces that people should always go to the Bible first with their questions.
4. The songs were awesome! After the second viewing, I had the main choruses memorized (with no effort, mind you). The songs are catchy enough to not drive you crazy after 10 viewings, and the main choruses are Bible verses. This is a fantastic asset for parents wanting to teach their kids scripture memory. My daughter is highly uninterested in academics (as are most three year olds), and this is a great tool to help her memorize verses without the potential for failure. Atter 100 viewings, she'll know them by heart. She has the Veggie Tales and Barney songs memorized, why not a few Bible verses?
5. A calming effect. This is an interesting observation about this series, or perhaps about the Bible in general. Most days when my daughter watches videos or shows on television, I can barely peel her away. She screams and whines, argues and becomes belligerent with me because I won't let her keep watching more shows. That in itself mystifies me. What is it about television that causes that effect? I don't know yet. Nevertheless, for two days in a row now, I've noticed her disposition was different after watching this show. She seemed calmer and less worked up when it was over. She still wanted to keep watching, but she wasn't angry or aggressive with me. Very interesting. I can only guess that it's the simple, calming nature of the show or the fact that the Bible is being read. I don't know. Maybe you can tell me.
As I've said before, my daughter is the litmus test of a great children's video. Although she was more interested in playing during the songs yesterday, she did wake up asking to watch it today. And to my surprise, she asked me if I would like to be Toodle Boople and she could be Poodle Boople while we played today. Those names ARE fun to say!
I give it a thumbs up, but with a note to parents. Because the show deals with complex spiritual issues, you will need to stop in to explain some of the things they see. Though it appeared simple to me at first, my daughter had a lot of questions about the stories. I loved her curiosity and the opportunity to share spiritual insights with her. But for the parent who wants a "hands off" experience for a little free time to yourself, you may save this one for a day when you're in a better mood.
It's worth checking out for yourself - you can hear a sample song and read the synopsis for each story at www.Booples.com.