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SHOWS FOR YOUNGSTERS AND THEIR PARENTS TOO : Rudyard Kipling takes on new meaning thanks to Glover and Nicholson

October 23, 1994|N.F. MENDOZA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Storytelling becomes performance art for kids when Danny Glover and Jack Nicholson get their hands on a couple of Rudyard Kipling tales, as shown on PBS Wednesday night.

The special Celebrate Storytelling ... With Danny Glover, airing in prime time, explores the nature of storytelling and demonstrates several methods in which a story can be told--through dance, music and art.

Rabbit Ears production company ("We All Have Tales," "American Heroes and Legends") is following its critically acclaimed versions of "The Velveteen Rabbit" and "The Ugly Duckling" with Kipling and two of Hollywood's hot actors.

Nicholson loans his sardonic wit as he narrates "How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin" and "How the Camel Got His Hump." Both tales are from Kipling's "Just So" stories.

Glover, who reads "How the Leopard Got His Spots" is joined by Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Batoto Yetu, New York-based children's troupes who perform dance versions of stories in segments between the tales that are read.

"This is really a show that children and adults can watch together," producer and Rabbit Ears founder Mark Sottnick says. "It's different than other shows, which simply read stories to kids, in that it uses a lot of different, less conventional ways."

While the ultimate goal of the show is to entertain, Sottnick says that he hopes viewers "become aware of storytelling as an art form."

"Celebrate Storytelling . . . With Danny Glover" airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. on KCETand 7 p.m. on KVCR. For ages 2 and up.

More Family Shows

One of two Nickelodeon shows premiering this week for preschoolers is Allegra's Window, which looks at life through the eyes of a 3-year-old living in a community of puppets. Each episode uses plot and song to tell a complete story from beginning to end, much like a "Broadway musical for kids," according to a Nick spokesperson.

Nick hopes that Allegra will mirror the emotional ups and downs of its targeted audience. She'll be anxious about day care, saddened when she loses her favorite toy and will have a hard time keeping a secret. Allegra uses nature, imagination and resourcefulness to solve problems, make discoveries and learn new things.

"Allegra's Window" premieres Monday at 11 a.m. on Nickelodeon. For ages 2 to 6.

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Stay tuned: If you have a 2- to 6-year-old at home, tune into Gullah Gullah Island, a show about an African-American couple (Ron and Natalie Daises, married in real life) who open their home to preschoolers.

"It's not exactly a sitcom, but there's a storyline that runs through each show; it's not just a series of vignettes like other preschool programming," Natalie says. "It's a simple plot."

"We also incorporate a lot of music into it," adds Ron. "We don't talk down to them in any way and introduce them to all kinds of things. They'll hear calypso, Caribbean, Afro, pop, gospel and all the old standards, done in a way that preschoolers can relate to."

Each episode looks at the culture of the Sea Island region along the Carolina and Georgia coastlines, with a look at the communities their people.

The Daises' real son Simeon plays the youngest of the TV family's children.

"Gullah Gullah Island" premier e s Monday at 11:30 a.m. on Nickelodeon. For ages 2 to 6.

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