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Teaching kids while entertaining them at the same time is sort of like using sugar to sweeten medicine so that it goes down more smoothly. A great tool to this end is the kid’s ebook, the Pacific Ocean, which features nicely illustrated, well-drawn, comic style characters who are open and friendly and completely absent of any subversive traits. Children are drawn to Professor Beetoven, who talks about the measurements and dangers and inhabitants of the sea, as well as the history of its chartography. Kids don’t even know they are learning, but are excited to discover new information about the natural world.
Cartoon characters have the capacity to reach children in a way that other methods do not in that they can relate more readily to well-drawn figures who have many of the same attributes they do. Characters like Professor Beetoven, Katnap Cat, Tad the Frog and Barnacle Bill (all of whom figure prominently in the children’s ebook, The Adventures of Professor Beetoven: The Pacific Ocean) all communicate both excellent values and informative facts while sharing some of the most important childlike qualities with which all kids can easily pick up on. Professor Beetoven, for instance, is the primary arbiter of knowledge, touted as the Ambassador of Intelligence, donned with a graduation cap and smart-looking spectacles, but he is also, like a child, open, friendly, inquisitive, and genuinely excited about the facts that he communicates. You will find no snide sarcasm or sophomoric insults slipping from his lips, like you might in so many other contemporary cartoons or comics, and in other ebooks for kids, but instead, Professor Beetoven and all of his friends possess a basic quality of humility that keeps them open and transparent. This is true even when they struggle with many of the same issues kids face, such as Tad the Frog’s frustration with being misheard and his words misconstrued by Barnacle Bill. A funny story, Tad the Frog nevertheless must learn to understand that Barnacle Bill is not intentionally being rude, but has a problem hearing, and therefore he should deal with his feelings of frustration and learn to be patient and accepting of others, flaws and all. Kids can pick up very quickly on these shared qualities and identify with characters in such a way that it opens channels to share curiosity and interests about the natural world as well. This is an excellent teaching tool than can be used by educators and parents alike.
Adults and children of all ages are obsessed with cartoons because of the way they tell stories in a way that not only appeals to the imagination and the mind, but to the eye as well. Comic drawings such as can be found in eBooks for kids are very popular because they not only serve to educate children, but also keep them focused and intrigued by a storyline that plays out before their very eyes. Well-drawn illustrations that are simple and pleasing to the child’s eye can carry her along while being entertained by interesting characters, and storyline that play to the kinds of interests and activities targeted for a child audience.
Among kids eBooks, Professor Beethoven first adventure, The Pacific Ocean, stands out as one that is worthy of obsession. In it, children not only discover various facts about the natural world, the dimensions of the ocean, the history of those who charted it, the number and kinds of fish in the sea, and the potential dangers of seafarers, but it is all illustrated with funny comic characters who each appeal to a child’s tastes, interests and eye. Professor Beethoven, the Ambassador of Intelligence, doesn’t cram hard information down the throat, but rather is a friendly bee with a graduation cap and a diploma in humble smarts. Younger kids love poring over the illustrations, discovering every detail, laughing at the mis-hearings of the kindly old merchant marine, Barnacle Bill, and almost incidentally, really learning about all kinds of stuff that will pique their interest to know more. More than that, older kids will discover the joy of reading as the text is presented in story form, but punctuated with excellent and appealing illustrations. They won’t even be aware they are learning things, but will inspire the desire to learn more.
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James a. Rumpf being interviewed by Robin Wilding for Animation Career Review link below.