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Yellow Wiggle will be missed

My daughter-in-law doesn't allow my three grandsons to watch too much television. She figures they can do more constructive things with their time. She's right, of course, and part of her daily routine is to make certain the three boys - Taylor, ...

My daughter-in-law doesn't allow my three grandsons to watch too much television. She figures they can do more constructive things with their time.

She's right, of course, and part of her daily routine is to make certain the three boys - Taylor, Aidan and Ian - have other things to occupy their time - things like books, arts and crafts, educational toys and games.

But she does allow them to watch a little television most days. They watch children's programs that Ellen has reviewed in advance and signed off on as being good for the boys.

She amazes me because she knows so much about the programs her children watch. She knows the characters, what they say, the songs they sing and so much more. It's very interesting to watch her interact with the boys when they watch these programs together.

One of the programs she allows them to watch is the popular children's group known as The Wiggles, an Australian group known by children across the world.

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Although they're only 6 and 3, the two older boys have pretty much outgrown The Wiggles, but the little guy will be introduced to them in the near future.

Unfortunately, he will not have a chance to see the Yellow Wiggle, Greg Page, the group's lead singer, who is departing the group because of illness.

The 34-year-old Page, who is known for his bright yellow

T-shirt, has been undergoing medical treatment since June after experiencing fainting spells and lethargy, according to news reports.

"The Wiggles" have an amazing effect on children, who start singing and dancing along with them during the programs. There's some kind of connection there that I don't fully understand.

The group is so successful that "The Wiggles" were Australia's top-earning entertainers last year. The four men in their brightly colored T-shirts - accompanied by a cast of characters that includes Dorothy the Dinosaur and Wags the Dog - grossed $39 million last year.

Page was replaced by an understudy when he pulled out of "The Wiggles" U.S. tour in July. Doctors have apparently been unable to identify Page's illness, according to the group's publicist.

Page helped found "The Wiggles" in 1991 after he and two other members met while studying early childhood education at Sydney's Macquarie University.

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The group's popularity is worldwide. It has franchised itself to several non-English speaking countries, including Taiwan.

I've watched "The Wiggles" and other programs with the boys and some of them are amazing.

Although it's dated, I still think "Sesame Street" is one of the greatest children's programs ever.

Another popular program with younger children is something called "Veggie Tales," in which characters in the programs are various vegetables. The programs are very cleverly done.

The other night I watched one with the boys. It was the classic Biblical tale about David and Goliath. Only in this "Veggie Tales" version, Goliath is a giant cucumber, and he is defeated by little Dave.

But the most amazing children's programming I've seen may be the "Baby Einstein" series of DVDs.

The effect Baby Mozart, or Baby Bach or other tapes in the series have on babies is astounding.

They seem to be mesmerized by the sounds and colors, and it holds their attention. And not all babies like the same DVD in the series.

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If Ellen wants to settle Ian down, she just pops in the Baby Mozart DVD and he is quickly immersed in the program and is calm as a clam. But the Baby Bach DVD doesn't have the same effect on him.

There is some very good children's programming out there, but we'll miss the Yellow Wiggle, Greg Page. He's made children all over the world laugh and sing and dance. No one could have a greater legacy.

Readers can reach Terry DeVine at (701) 241-5515 or tdevine@forumcomm.com

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