PBS // 2007 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dan Mancini (Retired) // July 27th, 2009
When we have a question, we look...in a book!
Super Why debuted on PBS Kids in 2007. The show follows the reading adventures of a little kid named Whyatt, who lives in Storybrook Village along with his friends, Little Red Riding Hood, Princess Pea, and the Littlest Pig. The four friends solve problems as a masked superhero team called the Super Readers. Whyatt becomes Super Why with the power to read; Red Riding Hood becomes Wonder Red with word power; Princess Pea becomes Princess Presto with spelling power; and Pig becomes Alpha Pig, with alphabet power (kids watching the show become Super You, with the power to help). Faced with a Super Big Problem, the team uses its Super Duper Computer to identify super letters they'll have to find in the story, and then they jump into the storybook. As they progress through the story, they're confronted with challenges they must solve by using their reading and spelling skills. When they complete a challenge, they're rewarded with super letters, bringing them a step closer to the Super Story Answer to the Super Big Problem.
Super Why: Jack and the Beanstalk and Other Fairytale Adventures contains four episodes from the series:
* "Jack and the Beanstalk"
When Whyatt's little sister Joy won't stop crying, the Super Readers use the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk to discover that music has the power to stop her tantrum.
* "The Princess and the Pea"
Whyatt and the team use the story of The Princess and the Pea to help Princess Pea pass a test to become a junior princess and receive a crown.
* "The Three Little Pigs"
The Super Readers consult the story of The Three Little Pigs to teach Pig that being Jill's (of Jack and Jill fame) friend is the best way to stop her from knocking down his building blocks.
* "Little Red Riding Hood"
The team hops into Little Red Riding Hood in order to discover how to stop Wolfie from scaring Pig.
Super Why's mix of fairytale characters and superhero adventures is oddly convoluted for a kids' show and the episodes' plots make absolutely no sense, but the show accomplishes its mission of reinforcing reading skills while entertaining with bright colors and catchy songs. What separates Super Why from Dora the Explorer, Little Einsteins, Blue's Clues, and other shows for preschoolers is its focus on putting letters, words, and sentences on screen and associating them with images so that tykes can actually strengthen their reading skills while watching the show. Parents who pop this disc in will find their wee ones having a blast spelling along with Whyatt and his friends. It's difficult to complain about that.
Super Why: Jack and the Beanstalk and Other Fairytale Adventures presents its four episodes in an attractive 1.78:1 transfer enhanced for widescreen displays. Colors are bright, detail is crisp, and there are no combing, blocking or other video artifacts. Audio is presented in a serviceable Dolby stereo mix. My only gripe with the DVD presentation is that there is no Play All option from the episode menu.
DVD extras include music videos for four of the show's songs ("ABC Sing with Me," "W-H-Y Spells Why," "Rhyming Time," and "I Love to Spell"), interactive games "Red's Rhyme n' Roll," "Create Your Own Superhero," "Alpha Pig's Alpha-Bricks," and "Super Why's Storybook Creator," and four episode-specific activities that parents can lead. Pop the disc into your computer's DVD-ROM drive and you can access printable activity sheets and coloring pages.
There are a ton of television programs out there that try to entertain preschoolers while instilling a love of math, music, art, or science in them. From an educational standpoint, Super Why is the most practical and effective of the various shows I've seen. It succeeds completely in its mission of making reading fun and entertaining for young kids.
Not Guilty. Adventure awaits.
Review content copyright © 2009 Dan Mancini; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Interactive Games
* Music Videos
* Printable Activities
* Parental Resources
* Official Site