How do you teach pre-literate children to handle books? Driver Dan has the answer. Carefully instructing his friends how to sit quietly, listen intently, and bring their imagination to life, Driver Dan is a computer animated lion (who is a train conductor). Driver Dan often regales his readers with both the familiar and the fantastic, always emphasizing the importance of enjoying the act of reading and treasuring the experiences therein. Driver Dan's Story Train (52x11) is co-funded by BBC and twofour54. The program's inventive combination of CG characters and live-action children makes fore more than just a cartoons-plus-green-screen experience, the final result, currently airing on the early-education channel CBeebies, is an intelligent next step in educational programming. Driver Dan's Story Train was created by Rebecca Elgar, author and illustrator.
Indeed, this seems like the next logical step for a television program whose primary emphasis is expanding kid-literacy.
This is reportedly Macmillan Children's "first key [preschool] licensing brand," according to one individual with the publisher.
Books based on the Driver Dan's Story Train property will begin with character-based books and paperbacks, with cloth books, e-books, and wipe-clean books to follow at later dates.
Driver Dan's Story Train includes production by Bristol-based development and production group 3Line Media, with animation provided by the company's multi-talented production arm A Productions. 3Line Media's portfolio also includes the 2D comedy Frankenstein's Cat and the mixed-media property Mister Maker. In addition to its production services and development of original intellectual property, 3Line Media's principals also serve as creative consultants in content acquisition, series production, and project management.
Driver Dan's Story Train was developed as a property capable of merging the entertainment and educational needs of children, with an interesting and high-quality visual style to boot. So far, the series' producers appear to succeeded -- although twofour54 has yet to bring on board an Arabic-speaking broadcaster, the company reports positive feedback on a localized pilot of Driver Dan's Story Train. The series' emphasis on group-based social values, communication learning, positive role-play, and more are what producers hope will push young viewers to explore their world more.
on twofour54: twofour54's vision is to establish a sustainable Arabic media and entertainment content creation industry in Abu Dhabi; a regional center of excellence which is internationally renowned. The aim is to stimulate creative and professional partnerships in the television, film, publishing, online, music, gaming, and animation industries.
(Sources: Macmillan Children's Books, twofour54, Guardian News, ActivityVillage.co.uk)
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