PBS Saturday mornings

Already a parental favorite when it comes to children's weekday viewing, PBS is looking to be the provider of choice for preschoolers on Saturday mornings.

At 8 a.m. Sept. 30, the service will debut its first-ever Saturday-morning kids block, called "PBS Kids Bookworm Bunch."

All six brand-new shows that comprise the three-hour block have links to children's books, and all are from Toronto-based producer Nelvana Ltd.

PBS last August agreed to pay Nelvana $40 million. As part of the agreement, at least two of the shows later will be stripped on weekdays (PBS committed to 40 new strip episodes for each show chosen).

The PBS/Nelvana lineup looks like this:

  • Seven Little Monsters, based on a book by the beloved Maurice Sendak. The animated series stars seven 10-foot-tall characters, each with "a distinct gift or quality that children can learn from," a Nelvana press release says.
  • George Shrinks, created by innovative author/illustrator William Joyce. The animated George must cope with being 3 inches tall in a much bigger world. Joyce also is responsible for the Disney Channel's computer-generated Rolie Polie Olie (likewise produced by Nelvana).
  • Timothy Goes to School, an animated show based on books about a shy 5-year-old, by author/illustrator Rosemary Wells.
  • Corduroy, an animated series based on two books by author/illustrator Don Freeman. Corduroy, as just about every parent knows, is a cuddly bear who lives in a big city.
  • Marvin the Tap-Dancing Horse, from the mother/son author/illustrator team of Betty and Michael Paraskevas. In the animated Marvin, a young boy meets the animal stars at local carnival.
  • Elliot Moose, where book characters, including Andrea Beck's Elliot Moose, come to life. The show, based on The Big House, combines live action, puppetry and animation.

Nelvana also produces Donkey Kong for the FOX Family Channel, Franklin and Little Bear for Nick Jr. and Babar for HBO Family.