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The Green Life: In "Simon Says," Cartoon Animals Battle Climate Change, Educate Children

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February 16, 2011

In "Simon Says," Cartoon Animals Battle Climate Change, Educate Children

ClimatechangecartoonWhat’s the best way to make someone a devotee of the green life? Get ‘em when they’re young.

A new short children’s film by animator-activist Denis Thomopoulos, Simon Says: Let’s Stop Climate Change, follows the adventures of a merry but concerned band of jungle animals that joke, sing, and dance their way through a primer about climate change.

The latest installment from Thomopoulos’s Hippo Works features a motley crew; at the head of it is Peep, a songbird who uses a laptop (one, one might note, which maintains exceptional wireless service deep in the African jungle) to research climate-change jargon, as well as a guitar to sing about melting glaciers and the “Power of Poop” (a tune about creating energy from methane).

Peep and friends, including wasteful skeptic Bob the Rodent (spoiler alert: Bob eventually becomes an eco-believer), meet devastated farmers, battle malevolent pollution clouds, and hold a bake sale to raise money to buy carbon offsets (at least one group of kids has already followed suit and held their own, Thomopoulos said). Along the way, they order veggie burgers and buy reusable grocery bags and locally grown tomatoes. Once Simon the Hippo has the keys to a hybrid, it starts to feel a bit preachy.

Despite being slightly didactic (it is an activist children’s cartoon, after all), the film isn't too much that way, and it's not at all boring. The soundtrack is catchy (“One by one / ton by ton / we can stop the carbon / one by one”), the plot has enough substance and humor to keep kids engaged, and the animation is colorful and creative.

The DVD is available online, and Thomopoulos said he’s looking for screening opportunities: “My goal is for it to reach as many kids as possible,” he said. Sounds like the perfect way to green your Saturday morning.

--Tim McDonnell

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