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

Between the Lions

Between the Lions

Spring 2011 Television
Ages: 4 - 7 yrs.
Network: PBS

Between the Lions is an Emmy-award winning PBS kids' program aimed at viewers aged 3 to 7, and it uses a winning blend of puppetry, live-action video, animation and music to promote phonics and early-reading skills.

The puppetry is superb, depicting lion cubs Lionel and Leona, who live with their parents in a public library. Each half-hour episode starts with a short skit that motivates a storybook read-along. In one episode, a bike wheel puppet, one example of the show's clever puppetry, feels unappreciated. To cheer him up, the lions read the book What Do Wheels Do All Day?. In another episode, Leona is excited, yet nervous, about removing the training wheels from her bicycle, and her parents read Rollercoaster to help her manage her mixed emotions.

Episodes include a variety of other skits, musical numbers, and animated vignettes featuring a variety of friends, but the focus in each stays firmly on featuring letters, letter combinations, and common sight words. The storybook read-alongs are simply animated and the words appear at the bottom of the screen, creating a nice energy; and the other vignettes are short and engaging, all paced just right to drive home the educational content.

With its humorous puppet cast and focused educational mission, Between the Lions has a smart charm about it that's sure to please early readers and their parents.

Gina Catanzarite   ©2011 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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