CBC TV’s Bookaboo puts spotlight on Canadian kidlit
This week, CBC Television premiered Bookaboo, a Canadian version of a U.K. book-themed children’s show, aimed at engaging families with kidlit.
The show’s lead character is a Cockney-accented, rock-star puppy named Bookaboo, puppeteered by Marcus Clarke, who insists upon “a story a day” or he “just can’t play.” The series features a rotating cast of celebrity readers, including Peter Mansbridge, Jason Priestley, Fefe Dobson, Gordon Pinsent, and Jian Ghomeshi.
Co-produced by Montreal’s Cité Amérique, Bookaboo was conceived by Lucy Goodman, writer, producer, director, and founder of the U.K.-based production company Happy Films. After the show received several broadcasting awards and fanfare from British and Australian audiences, Goodman pitched a “Canadian tour” to Kim Wilson, creative head of CBC’s children and youth programming.
“I knew in half a millisecond that I wanted the show,” Wilson said at a screening Wednesday for CBC Kids’ Day. “I hope it has a long life at CBC.”
Bookaboo is also good news for Canadian publishers. The 28-episode first season features titles from Kids Can Press, Random House Canada, Simon & Schuster Canada, HarperCollins Canada, Scholastic Canada, and Hachette Book Group Canada. After each episode, 1,000 books from participating publishers will be donated to the literacy and reading charity First Book Canada.
When selecting titles, Goodman says she looked for a wide variety of books that are “really good fun to read aloud.” Upcoming episodes feature Mélanie Watt’s Scaredy Squirrel (Kids Can), Ashley Spires’ Larf (Kids Can), and Dave Whamond’s My Think-a-ma-Jink (Owlkids Books).
It was important to Goodman to engage parents – she calls the celebrity appearances “crumbs for mums” – as research shows that 24 per cent of Canadian households don’t own any kids’ books. Goodman also designed the Bookaboo character to be relatable to boys, whom she says are more often “the ones who say books are boring.”
Bookaboo’s 11-minute episodes air at 10 a.m. on weekdays and repeat on Saturdays at 7:15 a.m.