I’m a little ashamed to admit, I recently watched cartoons in the middle of the afternoon.
Even as a child, I never had any interest in cartoons or comics about superheroes. I always found them boring and unable to relate to. Maybe there just weren’t any particular superpowers that inspired me.
Yesterday I checked into a hotel, switched on the television and flipped through a few channels. I stopped at PBS, where Word Girl was just coming on. Does anyone know Word Girl?
Sure, it’s a little hokey, as something that might be spoofed on Saturday Night Live. But the premise was enough to draw me in.
Word Girl is a 10-year-old super-powered alien who apprehends villains in her quest to educate her following of 6-to 12-year olds to “power up with power words.” From what I gather, she also likes to ask kids what their favorite words are. What’s not to like?
Perhaps it’s because I’ve become out of touch with children’s programming that I’m unfamiliar, so I apologize for crawling out from under a rock. Apparently, World Girl has been on the world scene for about five years, launched as a spinoff of another children’s program. Each episode features a couple of 11-minute segments, each focused on two words. Yesterday’s words were “tangent,” “imitate,” “confident” and “zest.” Then there’s a little game show style quiz at the end that reinforces that day’s vocab.
There’s a lot of action in this show, as is normal when heroes face villains, which might explain why parents in some countries reject Word Girl as violent. She is syndicated, dubbed and, in some cases, re-named in many countries around the world.
What I like is that the dialogue is very adult. In addition to the featured vocabulary words, lots of big words are thrown around, in context but without explanation. So if your kid isn’t watching Washington Week, she’ll still pick up some heady language from PBS, without the monosyllables and child-centered tones of Barney and Mister Rogers. I wish the wee heroine didn’t have such a piercingly high voice. If I’d invented Word Girl, I’d have cast a more sophisticated voice into the animated role.
Another tidbit I learned while researching my new superhero is that a Halloween costume is available. I wonder if it comes in Big Word Girl sizes.