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Between the Lions is an award-winning PBS television series that premiered in April 2000, designed to foster the literacy skills of children kids four to seven years old. There are 120 episodes of the program, which is produced by Sirius Thinking, Ltd. (founded by talent from Sesame Street, The Electric Company, Nickelodeon, and Jim Henson Productions) and various public television stations.
The main characters, lion cubs Lionel (age 7) and Leona (age 4) serve as role models for younger viewers. Their parents Cleo and Theo live and work in the Barnaby B. Busterfield Library, and allow their cubs to read and play in the library during the day, surrounded by a wild cast of puppet, animated, and human characters. Cleo and Theo are playful, understanding, and literary parents, who eagerly demonstrate the power and pleasure of literacy.
The show has a strong emphasis on storytelling, with stories or poems read aloud in every episode. It also features some award-winning songs which teach the rules of the English language, including "Vowel Boot Camp" featuring simple stick puppets of letters dressed in soldier's clothing. Another segment features Martha Reader and the Vowelles, a Motown-style vocal group made up of hand puppets of bodiless pairs of lips adorned with glitzy accessories. They entertain with a repertoire comprising only vowel sounds. There is also plans to release the first season of the show on DVD.
- Arty Smartypants, a marionette with human hands
- Barnaby B. Busterfield III, an immobile bust on the library roof
- Walter and Clay Pigeon, a pair of not-so-bright pigeons who keep Barnaby company
- Click the Mouse, a computer mouse with a mouse's face and ears
- Gus the Bunny
- Heath the Thesaurus, a very large dragon puppet
- Sam Spud, a puppet made from a potato
- Dr. Alexander Graham Nitwhite and his assistant Watson
- Swarmy Marmy, Arty Smartypants mother
- Winner of 6 Emmy Awards, with a further 27 Emmy Nominations
- 2004, for: Outstanding Writing in a Children's Series
- 2003, for: Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction, Set Decoration, Scenic Design
- 2002, for: Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction
- 2001, for: Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction, Set Direction, Scenic Design
- 2001, for: Outstanding Achievement in Single Camera Editing
- 2001, for: Outstanding Achievement in Main Title Design
- 2004 Prix Jeunesse International Finalist, Television for Children Under 6
- 2004 Eliot Pearson Award for Excellence in Children's Programming
- 2003 and 2001 Winner of a Parents' Guide to Children's Media Award
- 2003, 2002, 2000 Gold Award for Best Show for Kids Aged 4-7, Parents' Choice Awards
- 2002 Nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Children's Programming, Television Critics Award
- 2002 Winner of Video Media Award, "The Ram in the Pepper Patch", Parenting Magazine
- 2001 Broadcast Media Award for Television, International Reading Association
- 2001 Most Worthwhile Kids' TV Show, Woman's World Magazine
- 2001, 2000 Best Kids Show, Television Critics Association
- 2001 Outstanding Educational/Instructional Program, Boston/New England Emmy Awards
- 2000 Best Children's Entertainment Site, Massachusetts Interactive Media Council
- 2000 Silver World Award, New York Festivals