Arthur, the eight-year-old aardvark, and his friends have been learning and growing together for 10 years and are back for their eleventh season with brand new shows on PBS KIDS GO!. This season Arthur and his friends will be tackling brand new subjects including adoption.
Binky Barnes, one of Arthur's good buddies, and his family are adopting a baby girl from China. Binky is excited and nervous about the adventure, while I am highly impressed with how the topic of adoption is handled on Arthur, the Emmy-Award winning children's program.
Big Brother Binky, Part I - Plot Summary
It all begins with a dream sequence that takes place in China where Binky is learning the "Path of the Big Brother" from Arthur. This is a cute way to begin the story which really starts at the dinner table later on. After learning the news of the impending adoption of a little girl, Binky is very excited and ready to jump on the next plane to China. He quickly learns that there is an adoption process and a lot of waiting. Binky is put in charge of the check list that not only gives Binky something to do, but keeps the family on track.
The Barnes family begins learning about the Chinese culture by visiting their local Chinese restaurant, creating a traditional quilt, and learning a few words in Chinese. But when Binky leans he has to give up the game room and some of his things to make space for baby sister, his mood quickly sours. Binky feels left out and forgotten at this point. Part I ends on the plane trip to China where Binky discovers that he has not been forgotten when his mom presents him with his own traditional 100 Good Wishes Quilt.
Postcards from You
Each new Arthur features a couple of one-minute videos created by young viewers. One of the segments featured in this episode is about two friends adopted from China. They show a map of China, an adoption referral, and some travel pictures. They also visit a Chinese restaurant where they are seen enjoying traditional foods.
I feel this particular Postcards from You was a nice addition to this special episode of Arthur.
Big Brother Binky, Part II - Plot Summary
Upon arriving in China the Barnes enjoy site seeing before picking up baby sister, Mei Lin. Once home Binky has trouble calming Mei Lin's cries and worries that he's not a very good big brother. Binky tells his parents that they should take her back to her "real" home in China because he's worried that she is not happy in their home. Mom and Dad explain to Binky that adoption means that they are her forever family and that her "real" home is with them. Binky later learns that he does not have to be perfect to be a big brother and delights in teaching Mei Lin a new funny face.
To Sum it Up
The events leading up to an adoption are explored and described in a way that young children can understand. Children will be given the chance to not only learn the steps to an adoption, but the emotions felt by soon to be siblings.
I enjoyed watching the Barnes family go through the adoption process with visits to the adoption agency and the excitement of their adoption referral. These are things that many typical adoptive families experience. This episode of Arthur allows children a safe way to learn about the adjustment and changes felt in a family during the adoption process. This sometimes includes complicated emotions.
I feel that this episode of Arthur was very well thought out and researched. Many adoption experts were interviewed including Adam Pertman, the executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute who consulted during the project.
Topics to Talk About
Binky felt unimportant when told that he was losing his game room and some of his toys. How would you feel if you had to give up some of your stuff? How is sharing just a part of being a brother or sister?
Binky enjoyed learning about the Chinese culture through food, language, and traditions. What can you do to learn more about your new sibling's culture?
Binky enjoyed helping his parents with the adoption process by keeping the checklist of things to do. What can you do to help your parents get ready for an adoption?
Genre - Animation
Network - PBS
Program length - 30 minutes
PBS KIDS GO!, which provides educational, non-commercial entertainment for early elementary school kids, will kick off its fall 2007 season September 3 though 7, so check your local listings for show times.