Open main menu

WordGirl is an American children's educational animated television series produced by the Soup2Nuts animation unit of Scholastic Entertainment for PBS Kids as a spin-off of Maya & Miguel. The show began as a series of shorts entitled The Amazing Colossal Adventures of WordGirl that premiered on November 10, 2006. The series aired from September 3, 2007 to August 7, 2015.[1][2]

WordGirl
WordGirl title card.jpg
Also known asThe Amazing Colossal Adventures of WordGirl
Created byDorothea Gillim
Developed by
  • Dorothea Gillim
  • Jack D. Ferraiolo
Directed byDavid SanAngelo
Steve Young
Voices of
Narrated by
Theme music composer
  • Steven D'Angelo
  • Terry Tompkins
Opening themeWord Up, It's WordGirl!
Ending themeWord Up, It's WordGirl! (Instrumental)
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons8
No. of episodes130 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
  • Dorothea Gillim (2007–09/Seasons 1–2)
  • Deborah Forte (2008–15/Seasons 2–8)
Producer(s)
  • Will Shepard (2007–08/Season 1)
  • Danielle Gillis (2008–15/Seasons 2–8)
Running time30 minutes
Production company(s)Soup2Nuts
Scholastic
Release
Original network
Picture format4:3 Fullscreen (SDTV) (Season 1)
16:9 Widescreen (HDTV) (Season 2–8)
Audio formatDolby Digital 5.1
First shown inNovember 10, 2006
Original release
September 3, 2007 (2007-09-03) – August 7, 2015 (2015-08-07)
Chronology
Related showsMaya & Miguel
External links
Website
Production website

The show was created for children ages 4 to 9, even though it has a TV-Y7 rating in the U.S.[3]

BackgroundEdit

WordGirl began in 2006 as The Amazing Colossal Adventures of WordGirl, a short series airing within Maya & Miguel, becoming an independent show in September 2007.[3]

The show's creator, Dorothea Gillim, believes that children's shows often underestimate children's intelligence:

Part of my mission is to make kids' television smart and funny. I feel as though we’ve lost some ground there, in an effort to make it more accessible. WordGirl's focus is on great stories, characters, and animation. If all those elements are working, then you can hook a child who may come looking for laughs but leave a little smarter.[4][5]

Gillim says she created the show, in part, with the idea that parents would watch the show with their children to support their learning.[3]

Each eleven-minute segment in each episode (except for the first three episodes) begins with verbal instructions to listen for two words that will be used throughout the plot of that episode. The words (examples include “diversion,” “cumbersome,” and “idolize”) are chosen according to academic guidelines. The reasoning is that children can understand words like “cumbersome” when told that it means “big and heavy and awkward.”[4]

PBS NewsHour anchor Jim Lehrer agreed to do a mock interview with WordGirl. Jack D. Ferraiolo, who developed the series with Gillim and served as the series' head writer in Season One, received an Emmy for his work on WordGirl.[6]

Rather than hiring writers experienced with children's television, the show's original writers' previous credits included The Onion and Family Guy.

Much of the show’s cast particularly consisted of stand-up and improvisational comedians, with Chris Parnell for instance being hired after previously working on Saturday Night Live[3]. In addition, guest stars for the show were common, with even a minor role being voiced by someone who wasn’t a regular.

SynopsisEdit

Main article: List of WordGirl characters

The series stars WordGirl, a girl with superpowers whose secret identity is Becky Botsford, a student. WordGirl was born on the fictional planet Lexicon (also a term referring to the vocabulary of a language or to a dictionary) but was sent away after sneaking onto a spaceship and sleeping there when she was an infant. Captain Huggy Face, a monkey who was a pilot in the Lexicon Air Force, piloted the ship, but lost control when WordGirl awoke, and crash-landed on Earth (more specifically in Fair City), a planet that affords WordGirl her superpowers, including flight and super strength. WordGirl utilizes these powers to save her adoptive home, using her downed spacecraft as a secret base of operations. WordGirl and Captain Huggy Face fight crime together.

WordGirl was adopted and provided an alter ego by Tim and Sally Botsford, who gave her the name "Becky". While in her alter ego, she has a younger brother, TJ, obsessed with WordGirl, but still unknowingly a typical sibling rival to Becky. The Botsford family keeps Captain Huggy Face as a pet, naming him "Bob". Becky attends Woodview Elementary School, where she is close friends with Violet Heaslip and the school newspaper reporter Todd “Scoops” Ming.

WordGirl tries to balance her superhero activities with her "normal" life. She battles against an assortment of villains who are all prone to malapropisms. At the same time, she must worry about maintaining her second life as Becky, keeping people from discovering the truth and living normal family situations.

FormatEdit

Often, short animated segments are shown in between and at the end of episodes. "What's Your Favorite Word?", ostensibly hosted by Todd "Scoops" Ming, is a series of vox populi interviews asking random children what their favorite words are and why. A short game show segment called "May I Have a Word?" airs following each eleven-minute segment. This segment features the game show host, Beau Handsome, asking three contestants the definition of a particular word. The segment was created by Kelly Miyahara, Barry Sonnenfeld, and Ryan Raddatz. Yet another segment features the interstitials announcer (Rodger Parsons) asking Captain Huggy Face for a visual demonstration of a certain word (such as "pensive" or "flummoxed"). When Captain Huggy Face correctly demonstrates the meaning of the word, a definition is given, followed by a victory dance by the chimp sidekick.

During the four-part episode, "The Rise of Miss Power", a four-segment "Pretty Princess Power Hour" sketch is shown between acts, filling in for the average two-segment "May I Have a Word?" sketch, presumably to fill the double-length (52 minutes) time slot.

Companion websiteEdit

The companion site to WordGirl lives on PBS Kids, and was built by interactive firm Big Bad Tomato. It contains vocabulary-building games, a section where children can submit their favorite word, a video page with clips from the show (only available in the U.S. due to legal reasons), a "Heroes and Villains" section with character biographies and activities, and a PBS Parents section with episode guides, lessons, a site map, and more activities to play at home.

ComicsEdit

A series of WordGirl comics were also released by Boom! Studios new KaBOOM! line. The names of the volumes and the stories within them are:

  • Coalition of Malice is volume ?[7]
    1. Coalition of Malice
    2. Super Fans
  • Incredible Shrinking Allowance[8]
    1. The Incredible Shrinking Allowance
    2. Fondue, Fondon't
  • Word Up[9]
    1. The Ham Van Makes the Man
    2. Think Big
  • Fashion Disaster is volume 4[10]
    1. Fashion Disaster
    2. Fort Wham-Ground

BroadcastEdit

WordGirl aired in the U.S. on PBS Kids. In Canada the show airs on TVOKids in Ontario and Knowledge Kids in British Columbia. It is shown on ABC Kids in Australia.

Series overviewEdit

Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
Shorts 30 November 10, 2006 (2006-11-10) October 10, 2007 (2007-10-10)
1 26 September 3, 2007 (2007-09-03) January 2, 2009 (2009-01-02)
2 February 4, 2009 (2009-02-04) July 20, 2010 (2010-07-20)
3 13 September 7, 2010 (2010-09-07) July 8, 2011 (2011-07-08)
4 September 5, 2011 (2011-09-05) June 11, 2012 (2012-06-11)
5 September 10, 2012 (2012-09-10) June 14, 2013 (2013-06-14)
6 August 5, 2013 (2013-08-05) June 6, 2014 (2014-06-06)
7 August 4, 2014 (2014-08-04) July 29, 2015 (2015-07-29)
8 June 10, 2015 (2015-06-10) August 7, 2015 (2015-08-07)

ReceptionEdit

Common Sense Media rated the show four out of five stars, and graded the show as one for ages 5 and up. Emily Ashby, who reviewed the show for Common Sense Media, stated in her review, "There's a little bit of cartoon violence, but that pales in comparison to the fact that kid viewers will unknowingly expand their literary repertoire while enjoying the empowered young super heroine's adventures."

AwardsEdit

The show has received seven Daytime Emmy nominations, winning four for "Outstanding Writing in Animation" in 2008, 2012-2013 and Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program in 2015.

2008:

  • 2008 Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming, awarded July 19[11]
  • 2008 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Writing in Animation

2009:

  • Learning Magazine 2009 Teacher's Choice Award for Families
  • 2009 iParenting Media Award
  • Featured at the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival 2009
  • NY Festivals' 2009 TV Programming and Promotions award

2012:

  • 2012 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Writing in Animation

2013:

  • 2013 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Writing in Animation

2015:

  • 2015: Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ WordGirl (August 6, 2015). "Facebook post". Facebook. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  2. ^ PBS Kids (August 8, 2015). "WORDGIRL | Rhyme and Reason, Part 1/Rhyme and Reason, Part 2 | PBS KIDS - YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d Jensen, Elizabeth. The New York Times, September 2, 2007, "A New Heroine’s Fighting Words".
  4. ^ a b Jensen, Elizabeth (2007-09-02). "A New Heroine's Fighting Words". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-23.
  5. ^ Bynum, Aaron H. (2007-06-18). "'The Adventures of WordGirl' Animation Emerges on PBS Kids". Animation Insider. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  6. ^ Spero, Johannah (2008-06-18). "Local man lands Emmy for 'WordGirl'". Wicked Local Newburyport/The Newburyport Current. GateHouse Media, Inc. Retrieved 2008-06-23.
  7. ^ Volume ? Coalition of Malice
  8. ^ Volume ? The Incredible Shrinking Allowance
  9. ^ Volume ? Word Up
  10. ^ Volume 4 Fashion Disaster
  11. ^ 21 July 2008 press release

External linksEdit