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Review: Abdullah Kids Show

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It’s been a while since I’ve watched (I mean really engage and watch) a kids puppet show (well, except for the occasional mocking of RNC  Chairman Michael Steele as a muppet on the Daily Show), but as a father of three young children, I’m always on the lookout for good, educational Islamic programs (so I can sleep later in the morning).

So there I was, watching the Abdullah Kids Show, a program centered on the adventures of a bearded pre-tween (I couldn’t figure out his age) puppet in high def, and the first plus point immediately hit – the “No Musical Instruments” banner popped up, so I wouldn’t have to worry about intermittently hitting the mute button on my laptop (yeah, I’m obsessive like that).

I want to say what followed was, “…a metaphor for the battle for the identity of Western Islam, whereby a violent, impressionable young man bearing the characteristics of a Taliban soldier is re-educated to learn basic Qur’aanic literacy, care for the poor, and be kind to all creatures, thus allowing the message of moderate Islam to shine through and change this barbaric throwback’s heart.”  My fellow students and my professors in the Liberal Arts department would have been proud.  Maybe even a few political organizations.

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In truth, it’s not really that – what it is, is a good kids program with a number of solid areas every Muslim child needs to pick up on, with two parts khuluq and one part academic.  There are some cute songs mixed in, and live footage of Muslims helping and donating to the poorer neighborhoods (I believe in New Jersey).

The next step for me was to see how my kids reacted to it, and I gotta say, they loved it.  They laughed throughout the program and it was clear that they enjoyed watching it, as they do the 1Islam Productions Zaky cartoons.

I do, however, have a few suggestions for the program since this was a pilot episode:

1.  Blues Clues this Thing

From what I’ve read (at least, from Malcolm Gladwell), out of all the programs for kids out there, Blues Clues teaching method has been the best.  If this program had the interactivity of Blues Clues with the Islamic lessons and without the endless music (that Blues Clues has), it would be seriously awesome.

2.  DVD Release Please

Hopefully these programs will come out on DVD rather than just the web.  Speaking as a parent, I don’t want the kids in front of my laptop – I want their sticky fingers away from my keyboard and mouse.  The web is an awesome place to waste time for 10 – 40 year olds, not so much the little ones (ok, for none of us, but really, I just want my laptop to myself =)

3.  Higher Level Numbers and Concepts

Discussing the 100 parts of Allah’s Mercy is cool, but 99 may be too high a number for many kids (unless the program’s targeted age range is higher).

Overall, I give it two thumbs up (one thumb from me, two half thumbs from my kids), and I hope this pilot translates into a full-length, hour-long DVD release.

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Siraaj is the Operations Director of MuslimMatters as well as its new lead web developer. He's spent nearly two decades working in dawah organizations, starting with his chapter MSA in Purdue University, and leading efforts with AlMaghrib Institute, MuslimMatters, and AlJumuah magazine. Somewhere in there, he finds time for his full-time profession as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. He holds a bachelor's in Computer Science from Purdue University and a Master's certificate from UC Berkeley. He's very married and has 5 wonderful children

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. abu Abdullah

    June 8, 2010 at 12:12 AM

    Looks interesting. Thank you for the summary. jazakallah khayr.

  2. Omar

    June 8, 2010 at 9:53 AM

    It has a nice story and fun for kids.
    But in a world were kids can watch avatar and crazy graphics, I think they need a better muppet :)

  3. Ahmad AlFarsi

    June 8, 2010 at 3:09 PM

    Abdullah the Puppet is awesome, mashaAllah. Maryam bint Ahmad AlFarsi can’t get enough of him :)

    • Amad

      June 8, 2010 at 3:14 PM

      Maryam or her dad??? It’s the same excuse I use to watch Tom & Jerry episodes :)

      • Siraaj

        June 9, 2010 at 12:46 AM

        I think it’s both :)

        Siraaj

        • Ahmad AlFarsi

          June 9, 2010 at 11:16 AM

          Yeah. You guys got me… it is quite entertaining the first few times through. :)

          Only thing is, they’ve only got one episode so far… so, while Maryam at almost 3 years old, has retained the capacity to watch the same thing over and over again ad infinitum, I lost that ability back in my elementary school heyday.

          • Belal

            June 9, 2010 at 2:27 PM

            lol. I remember my little brother and I would watch single episodes of power rangers over and over again.

            Blue clues producers did a study on kids and they found that children under the age of five tend to experience the same episode in a new way each time they watch, that’s why they replay the same episode all week.

            In our case, since this is a pilot program, we’ll see what sort of results and reception is received from the kids and parents once the hour-plus DVD comes out by Eid inshaAllah.

            btw – how did you and your daughter enjoy the candid ICNA videos on AbdullahPuppet.com so far?

  4. UmmMaryam

    June 9, 2010 at 12:14 PM

    salamu ‘alaikum,

    well intentioned, yet I found the production to be in poor taste. i didn’t like all the screaming at the outset…though the point was to not do that (ie the lesson for the kids) I tend to believe overplaying the negatives means they also pickup on the negatives and choose when to act like that.

    yes, “bubble” theory…don’t show the kids or expose them to bad at an early age…that’s what I do for my kids and so i didn’t like the approach of this series

    • Azeem

      June 10, 2010 at 12:17 PM

      On Sesame Street I have seen times where they will show bad behavior and help explain why not to do it. You can’t stay away from the bad if you don’t know what it is. On the other hand I didn’t like the screaming either because it was ANNOYING! I will give it another chance (I stopped watching it at that point).

  5. abu nabeeha

    June 11, 2010 at 7:21 AM

    Awesome stuff. Please continue making them. A lot of them.

  6. shirien

    June 11, 2010 at 9:09 PM

    As far as the bad behavior, our age group is really for ages 5 and up. Many kids have experienced or seen these things come up by this point.

    @azeem, I agree the yelling was very annoying. We didn’t intend it to be so much, but for some reason when we edited it together that’s what voice over we had to work with.

    Less or no yelling in next episode, we promise inshaAllah :).

    We are definitely making more of them inshaAllah, no worries :)

  7. Reza R.

    June 13, 2010 at 9:38 PM

    ASA,

    My 4 year old son loved it. He has asked at least 2-3 times to watch it again, but then again he doesn’t get much (any) TV time aside from Adam’s World or Zaky.

    I also agree that a better looking, more professional looking puppet would allow the series to gain wider adoption and help it lose the “low budget” feel. The voice over work could be more polished and refined, and be careful about exactly what is being said.. I could have sworn I heard him almost say “die kitty” or something like that. :\ The theme song is fantastics, MA.

    We are looking forward to future episodes, IA. Keep up the great work guys.

    -Reza

    • shirien

      June 16, 2010 at 1:47 AM

      Assalamu alaikum Br. Reza,

      We’re really happy your son loved it, alhamdulillah! In all honesty, we’d love to get a new, polished, professional puppet, but sadly they are too expensive to buy up front.

      We want to obviously custom make it, but they cost at least $1000 dollars to make (on the cheap side). So what we decided to do, is just to get going with the project with whatever we had available to us – we had a poorly made puppet, some filming equipment and my husband edited the video.

      We decided to make this into a pilot DVD. If it does well, inshaAllah we will seek investors for the project and develop this on a more professional level inshaAllah – including getting a new puppet.

      So as long as people buy the first DVD which we are aiming to have out by Eid inshaAllah, we’ll be making many, many more episodes after that- inshaAllah.

      Wallahu alem.

  8. Pingback: Marketing Methods Discussed: Abdullah Puppet First Six Steps -- Leechon Films

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