Thursday, November 12, 2009

Busytown Mysteries

Did you grow up reading Richard Scarry books? I know I did. I can remember checking them out of the library. I remember that there were Busytown toys, too. As with many things from my childhood, Richard Scarry and Busytown is back. Starting this weekend, there is a new series on CBS - Busytown Mysteries. You can find the schedule for your area here. The show airs during Cookie Jar TV.

Busytown Mysteries is the Winner of the Canadian Film and Television Production Association Award (CFTPA) for Best Children’s and Youth Series. The series, which evidently was released in Canada first, already has 52 half hour episodes in season one and season two is in production.

Through One2One Network, I was given the opportunity to get an advanced copy of one of the episodes. Each episode consists of two eleven minute "mini" episodes. My kids and I sat down on Wednesday evening to watch the two mini episodes we received. The characters were just as I remembered from childhood (they even drove the apple car - who doesn't remember that!). The cast is lead by Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm. Together with the other members of the community, they solve the many every day mysteries of Busytown. Once they determine that they have a mystery to solve, they are off singing "Who? What? When? Where? Why?"

Busytown Mysteries engages children with fun storylines and lovable characters, while introducing them to deductive reasoning skills. As they try to figure out, Who? What? When? Where? Why?, they use resources at hand - researching at the library, taking a picture to get a better look, etc. I really liked the way that they systematically worked through the mystery and then once it was solved, they provide a brief recap of how they solved the mystery.

After watching the first half of the show, my son was asking if we could watch more. I explained it was a new show and that after we watched the DVD that we had, I would set up the DVR to record the Busytown Mysteries. In my area, the show airs three times on Saturday morning. I will be interested to see the commercials - what they are for and how many there are. For the most part, we don't watch commercial TV, sticking with Disney, Noggin and PBS, so commercials are still a bit of a confusion to my kids. (I remember when Blue's Baby Brother aired and there were commercials - only like one set, but my son had never seen a commercial and got so upset when it came on in the middle of his show).

In addition to the new series, you and your children can also play in Busytown through their fun, interactive website, where kids can explore different neighborhoods in Busytown, interact with the Busytown characters and play 14 games and activities designed for preschoolers, including interactive games, a Fan Club and “My First Email,” which lets little ones email their progress to pre-approved friends and family addresses. I checked it out myself, but have not yet had my son explore it. The games and activities were cute and again, the characters were familiar. You get to choose a character to be while in Busytown and a car to drive.

Richard Scarry’s books have sold over 150 million copies and have been translated into 30 languages over the last 40 years. If you grew up reading these books, the new series and the website, in addition to the books, is a great way to bring the characters to life for your kids.

I did not receive any compensation for this post, but did receive an advanced copy of Busytown Mysteries courtesy of One2One and Busytown Mysteries.