It’s been a while since I’ve bestowed my Media Macaroni Seal of Approval, and a post about the delightful Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Ozzie’s new favorite show, is long overdue.
Little Daniel Tiger, star of the show, is the son of Daniel Striped Tiger, who you might remember as one of Mister Roger’s puppets in the Neighborhood of Make Believe. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood was created by Angela Santomero, whose other creations include Blue’s Clues and Super Why, a great person to entrust with the legacy of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. Director Sarah Wallendjack and writer Becky Friedman are also great talents and buddies of mine from the Children’s Media Association. When the show first aired, I was excited to sit down and watch.
My first impression was that the show is . . . too sweet. Maybe it was our steady diet of Yo Gabba Gabba that led up to it. Though also sweet, Gabba has visible tattoos and Weezer and Amy Sedaris as a deranged Tooth Fairy. I wondered if maybe a steady diet of Daniel Tiger might be too nutritious. But the more we watch, the more we love. The situations are incredibly relatable, and the characters are thoughtful and funny (particularly the adorable Miss Eliana). The show is just right for Ozzie right now, almost three years old and going through major transitions seemingly every week. The show sets a great example not just for him, but for the rest of our family.
One of the hallmarks carried over from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood is the use of music to deliver a message. The episodes deal with themes like disappointment, sharing, fear, and anger. At key moments in the story, an adult on the show will sing a little something to the kids:
When something seems bad, turn it around and find something good.
When we do something new, let’s talk about what we’ll do.
You can take a turn, and then I’ll get it back.
When you have to go potty, stop, and go right away. Flush and wash and be on your way!
It’s kind of shocking how much these jingles have worked their way into our everyday life. We sing them often enough that Ozzie will sing them himself, like when he has to share with his sister, he’ll sing to her, “you can take a turn, and then I’ll get it back.” And the potty one is really coming in handy right now. I wish these songs could come in a form like our Mr. T In Your Pocket, where I could just press a button and have Ozzie hear one (certainly it would be better than hearing, “Quit your jibber jabber!”) We also sometimes end our day with Daniel Tiger’s way of saying I love you, “ugga mugga.” Hearing that come out of my pajama-clad boy followed by a hug is the best.
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood also carries over some other beloved staples from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood like the trolley and live-action visits to places like the bakery and crayon factory. The show is a must for toddlers and preschoolers.
It’s been fascinating to watch Ozzie’s interest in this show evolve, as it has signs of where kids’ media is headed. People like to throw around the term “transmedia,” and for some it means little more than being able to watch the show on different platforms. Ozzie, my little tablet native (we got our first iPad days after he was born), has developed expectations of having his show take different forms in different places. Sure, there’s the TV show on the TV. But when he’s not in the mood for a whole episode, we might watch clips on YouTube or on PBS Kids. Sometimes he wants to play games. He enjoys the iPad app (which is quite good and wonderfully age-appropriate, with sections to play at the doctor, with the potty, and Ozzie’s favorite, putting Daniel to sleep), as well as the web games. Some of the games are the same as the app, but there’s also a music game and a drive the trolley game. Ozzie loves the trolley game, but if any of the web developers are listening, please, oh please, fix the bugs in this game. It’s nearly impossible to stop the trolley at the castle.
I also downloaded the PBS Kids player for the iPad for Ozzie as another way of watching, and through this he’s also discovering some of the other PBS shows, particularly Super Why, Sid the Science Kid, and The Cat in the Hat. On YouTube, he’ll keep clicking around until he eventually hits on clips of Mister Rogers himself. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is a gateway into all kinds of great media.