KidPop News: Obama, Super Mario, and Literary Lions

Filed under: Gadgets, Books for Kids, Kids' Games, Books for Parents, Video Games, Activities: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Gear Guides: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Activities: Big Kids, Gear Guides: Big Kids, Activities: Tweens, New In Pop Culture, Family Time

Obama Picture Book Due Out in November

Credit: Amazon

I can hear the pundits now: The president wrote a children's book! It's propaganda! It's a stunt for the midterms!

I think we can all relax -- It's just a picture book. It's called "Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters" and it features Barack Obama's tributes to 13 famous Americans, including Georgia O'Keeffe and Jackie Robinson. And Obama's got a lot of work cut out for him if he wants to beat the kid-lit numbers put out by the families of the last administration. Laura and Jenna Bush teamed up to give us "Read All About It," the story of a class clown who learns to love books. And Lynne Cheney churned out several hefty illustrated tomes (and, I believe, set a record for colon usage) --"America: A Patriotic Primer," "Our 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America," "We the People: The Story of Our Constitution," "When Washington Crossed the Delaware: A Wintertime Story for Young Patriots," and "A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women." So come on, Obama family -- start writing!

"Of Thee I Sing" will be released on November 16th from Knopf Books for Young Readers. It is illustrated by the wonderful Loren Long. The book can be pre-ordered now on Amazon.

Is There a Little Gray in Super Mario's Mustache?

Credit: Nintendo

The latest entry in the ever-growing list of "Things That Make Us Feel Old": This week marks the 25th anniversary of the very first Super Mario Bros. video game. With the launch of that mushroom-squashing, princess-rescuing, coin-collecting game, Nintendo got itself a flagship character and changed the way video games would look from there on in. In the ensuing quarter-century, roly-poly Mario and his taller, thinner brother Luigi have appeared not only in dozens of other games, but all over the world of entertainment.

Best Ways to Celebrate:
1. Revisit the game that started it all. The original "Super Mario Bros." -- in all of its 8-bit glory -- is available via download directly to your Nintendo Wii console. And it'll only cost you a mere $5.
2. Play the newest, greatest Mario game: "Super Mario Galaxy 2." Oh, what a long way that little plumber has come. The latest Mario adventure has stunning 3-D graphics and mind-blowing, gravity-altering gameplay tricks that will curl your big bushy mustache.
3. Listen to the iconic theme music played by a full symphony orchestra. I apologize if by merely mentioning the song, I've just made it stick in your head all day. But if you haven't heard the full orchestral version of it yet, you really should. The track will be released on Oct. 19th, as part of the CD, "Video Games Live: Level 2." But for now you can watch a performance on YouTube.

Worst Way to Celebrate:
1. Rent the 1993 live-action movie, starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo. The truly awful film's worst mistake was not the mind-boggling bizarre casting (including a hair-gelled Dennis Hopper as the saurian King Koopa) or the ultra-lame makeup and costumes; it was the way the producers took the vibrant and colorful world of "Super Mario Bros." and decided to portray it as a dark and bleak dystopian society. It's enough to make you want to jump on a turtle.

Ten Years of Libraries and Lions

Credit: WGBH/Sirius Thinking

All the hullabaloo over the 10th anniversary of "Dora the Explorer" has overshadowed the fact that another great kids' show is hitting the big one-oh this year. PBS's hooray-for-reading extravaganza, "Between the Lions" kicks off its 10th anniversary season on Monday. What's next for this show that introduces little kids to the basic concepts of storytelling: Appropriately, an episode about sequels. If you're unfamiliar with Between the Lions (the name comes from the two huge lion statues outside the doors of the New York Public Library -- and the literal lion characters in the show, of course), it not only presents preschoolers with fun rehashes of classic tales like "Three Little Pigs" and "City Mouse and Country Mouse," but also uses quickie skits and music to reinforce letter sounds in a style similar to what the old "Electric Company" used to do. The show has been quietly successful (how appropriate) for a decade now, and definitely worth the notice of all those Dora fans.

Related: Time to Swipe the Page: More iPad Picture Books

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