WordGirl facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsWordGirl
|Created by||Dorothea Gillim|
|Directed by||David SanAngelo
|Theme music composer||
|Opening theme||Word Up, It's WordGirl!|
|Ending theme||Word Up, It's WordGirl! (Instrumental)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes||130 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Picture format||480i SDTV (Season 1)
1080i HDTV (Seasons 2–8)
|Related shows||Maya & Miguel|
WordGirl (stylized as W✪RD GIRL) is an American children’s flash-animated superhero television series produced by the Soup2Nuts animation unit of Scholastic Entertainment for PBS Kids. The show began as a series of shorts entitled The Amazing Colossal Adventures of WordGirl that premiered on PBS Kids Go! on November 10, 2006, usually shown at the end of Maya & Miguel; the segment was then spun off into a new thirty-minute episodic series that premiered on September 3, 2007 on most PBS member stations. All four full-episode seasons each have twenty-six episodes, while the preceding series of shorts had thirty.
By December 2014, most PBS stations from coast to coast had stopped airing WordGirl on TV. New episodes appear only on the PBS Kids website or PBS Kids video app on the computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone. The series ended with the two-part episode "Rhyme and Reason", which was released online on August 7, 2015.
The show was created for children ages 4 to 9.
WordGirl began in 2006 as a series of shorts airing within Maya & Miguel, becoming an independent show in September 2007.
The show's creator, Dorothea Gillim, believes that children's shows often underestimate children's intelligence:
Part of my mission is to make kids' television smart and funny. I feel as though we’ve lost some ground there, in an effort to make it more accessible. WordGirl's focus is on great stories, characters, and animation. If all those elements are working, then you can hook a child who may come looking for laughs but leave a little smarter.
Gillim says she created the show, in part, with the idea that parents would watch the show with their children to support their learning.
Each eleven-minute segment in each episode (except for the first three episodes) begins with verbal instructions to listen for two words that will be used throughout the plot of that episode. The words (examples include “diversion,” “cumbersome,” and “idolize”) are chosen according to academic guidelines. The reasoning is that children can understand words like “cumbersome” when told that it means “big and heavy and awkward.”
PBS NewsHour anchor Jim Lehrer agreed to do a mock interview with WordGirl. Jack D. Ferraiolo, who developed the series with Gillim and served as the series' head writer in Season One, received an Emmy for his work on WordGirl.
Rather than hiring writers experienced with children's television, the show's original writers' previous credits included The Onion and Family Guy. Narrator Chris Parnell had previously worked on Saturday Night Live.
The series stars WordGirl, a girl with superpowers whose secret identity is Becky Botsford, student. WordGirl was born on the fictional planet Lexicon (also a term referring to the vocabulary of a language or to a dictionary) but was sent away after sneaking onto a spaceship and sleeping there. Captain Huggy Face, a monkey who was a pilot in the Lexicon Air Force, piloted the ship, but lost control when WordGirl awoke, and crash-landed on Earth (more specifically in Fair City), a planet that affords WordGirl her superpowers, including flight and super strength. WordGirl utilizes these powers to save her adoptive home, using her downed spacecraft as a secret base of operations.
WordGirl was adopted and provided an alter ego by Tim and Sally Botsford, who gave her the name Becky. While in her alter ego, she has a younger brother, TJ, obsessed with WordGirl, but still unknowingly a typical sibling rival to Becky. The Botsford family keeps Captain Huggy Face as a pet, naming him Bob. Becky attends Woodview Elementary School, where she is close friends with Violet Heaslip and the school newspaper reporter Todd “Scoops” Ming.
WordGirl tries to balance her superhero activities with her "normal" life. She battles against an assortment of villains who are all prone to malapropisms. At the same time, she must worry about maintaining her second life as Becky, keeping people from discovering the truth and living normal family situations.
Often, short animated segments are shown in between and at the end of episodes. "What's Your Favorite Word?", ostensibly hosted by Todd "Scoops" Ming, is a series of vox populi interviews asking random children what their favorite words are and why. A short game show segment called "May I Have a Word?" (stylized as MAYIHAVEAWORD in the text bubble on Beau Handsome's wall) airs following each eleven-minute segment. This segment features the game show host, Beau Handsome, asking three contestants the definition of a particular word. The segment was created by Kelly Miyahara, Barry Sonnenfeld, and Ryan Raddatz. Yet another segment features the interstitials announcer (Rodger Parsons) asking Captain Huggy Face for a visual demonstration of a certain word (such as "pensive" or "flummoxed"). When Captain Huggy Face correctly demonstrates the meaning of the word, a definition is given, followed by a victory dance by the chimp sidekick.
During the four-part episode, "The Rise of Miss Power", a four-segment "Pretty Princess Power Hour" sketch is shown between acts, filling in for the average two-segment "May I Have a Word?" sketch, presumably to fill the double-length (52 minutes) time slot.
The companion site to WordGirl lives on PBS Kids, and was built by interactive firm Big Bad Tomato. It contains vocabulary-building games, a section where children can submit their favorite word, a video page with clips from the show (only available in the US due to legal reasons), a "Heroes and Villains" section with character biographies and activities, and a PBS Parents section with episode guides, lessons, a site map, and more activities to play at home.
Voice cast and characters
|Dannah Phirman||Becky Botsford/WordGirl, additional voices|
|Chris Parnell||The Narrator, additional voices|
|Tom Kenny||Dr. Two-Brains, TJ Botsford, Warden Chalmers, additional voices|
|Cree Summer||Granny May, additional voices|
|Patton Oswalt||Tobey McCalister III, additional voices|
|Fred Stoller||Chuck the Evil Sandwich Making Guy/minor characters|
|Jack D. Ferraiolo||The Butcher, The General|
|Pamela Adlon||Eileen, a.k.a. The Birthday Girl, additional voices|
|Maria Bamford||Violet, Sally Botsford, additional voices|
|Ryan Raddatz||Tim Botsford, Scoops, additional voices|
|James Adomian||Captain Huggy Face/Bob, additional voices|
|Grey DeLisle||Beatrice Bixby/Lady Redundant Woman, Ms. Question, Mrs. Ripley, additional voices|
|Darran Norris||Seymour Smooth, additional voices|
|Kristen Schaal||Victoria Best, Mrs. Best|
A series of WordGirl comics were also released by Boom! Studios new KaBOOM! line. The names of the volumes and the stories within them are:
- Coalition of Malice is volume ?
- Coalition of Malice
- Super Fans
- Incredible Shrinking Allowance
- The Incredible Shrinking Allowance
- Fondue, Fondon't
- Word Up!
- The Ham Van Makes the Man
- Think Big
- Fashion Disaster is volume 4
- Fashion Disaster
- Fort Wham-Ground
WordGirl currently airs in the US on PBS Kids on its 24/7 channel along with some PBS affiliates as of January 2021. In Canada, the show airs on TVOKids in Ontario and Knowledge Kids in British Columbia.
List of WordGirl episodes
The show has received seven Daytime Emmy nominations, winning four for "Outstanding Writing in Animation" in 2008, 2012–2013 and Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program in 2015.
- 2008 Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming, awarded July 19
- 2008 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Writing in Animation
- Learning Magazine 2009 Teacher's Choice Award for Families
- 2009 iParenting Media Award
- Featured at the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival 2009
- NY Festivals' 2009 TV Programming and Promotions award
- 2012 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Writing in Animation
- 2013 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Writing in Animation
- 2015: Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program
WordGirl Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.