CM . . .
. Volume VIII Number 8 . . . . December 14, 2001
So sings Caillou as he introduces 10 episodes taken from the Caillou television show which airs on PBS. Each short "event" is built around a happening which will be familiar to the preschool crowd. In "Caillou's Friends," Caillou laments that he has no friends with which to play, but his grandmother reminds him of two of his friends plus his neighbour, the family cat and his parents. Sibling rivalry is the focus of "Big Brother Caillou" as Caillou, just one and a half in this story, reacts negatively when his baby sister, Rosie, is brought home from hospital. A nice touch in this story is the family cat's also exhibiting evidence of feeling ignored. When everyone is too busy to play with Caillou in "Caillou and Gilbert," he turns to Gilbert, the family cat, to be his playmate. However, Caillou only plays children's games, something the cat does not want to do. Finally, with a bit of parental suggestion, Caillou recognizes that he needs to play cat games if he wants Gilbert's companionship. Friendship is a major theme in three of the vignettes. In "Caillou's Special Friend," Caillou has an invisible friend, George, whom Caillou uses as a scapegoat when something goes wrong. When André, the son of Caillou's mother's best friend, comes over, initially the two do not get along as André‚ is six and does not want to play four-year-old games in "Caillou's Big Friend." "Caillou Makes a New Friend" ends well after a rocky beginning in which Jim bosses Caillou about in the playground. Bonding between a son and father is the theme of "Caillou and Daddy" as the two spend a day together building a bookshelf for Mommy. After having fun playing with a dog in "Caillou Walks a Dog," Caillou wants one; however, his father reminds him that the family already has a pet, Gilbert the cat. The next day, Caillou makes do by taking his toy dog for a "walk" on a leash. While being babysat in "Caillou and the Doll," Caillou uses his mother's makeup on his sister's doll and then lies about its whereabouts. Finally, in "Caillou's New Babysitter," Caillou is determined not to like his new babysitter, but she wins him over with her imagination.
Gently paced, the single focussed short episodes will be viewed again and again by youngsters. Caillou's parents are most understanding and supportive of their children, and Caillou also has access to his grandparents who provide him with more love and support. The series' creators have truly captured the concerns of preschoolers and even include bits of preschool humour such as when Caillou and his friend Leo laugh uproariously at flatulence or when Caillou responds with a big "P-U" to the smell of his new sister's filled diaper. The pieces are short enough in length to maintain young viewers' attention spans. The only criticism that can be directed towards the video is that whoever decided on the pieces' order chronologically reversed the final two episodes. Young viewers were introduced to Julie, the babysitter, in "Caillou and the Doll" and then they confusingly view the episode "Caillou's New Babysitter" which says that Caillou wanted his regular babysitter. Imagine the viewers surprise when the babysitter turns out to be Julie.
Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's and YA literature in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.