Anyone who knows me well knows that I love puppets. As a kid, there were so many great children’s shows that used them, like Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, Sesame Street, and Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop. I even had a puppet of my own named Murray, after a character from the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Murray and I would lip sync duets to songs, and I’d videotape our performances. Clearly, I was an odd kid, but those puppeteering skills have come in handy as a parent; kids still really love puppets.
I’m always amazed at how my children respond to them. When I put one on my hand, I seem to fade into the background, as they talk to the puppet like an independent being. They know it’s me (I’m not a ventriloquist), but there’s something magical about puppets that draws young kids in.
Doug Zesinger knows the power of puppets, too. He’s creating a web series, “Stinky Tales,” that feels nostalgic to the shows I loved growing up. The show is geared toward three to six years olds and teaches empathy, self-awareness, and social skills while still managing to make kids laugh out loud. They tell stories about sibling rivalry, telling the truth, personal space and so much more. In fact, the director of “Sesame Street” Steve Feldman calls Doug the “new Mr. Rogers, able to entertain, nurture, and connect with any five year-old on the planet. ‘Stinky Tales’ is a can’t miss, preschool franchise. Children need Doug’s voice; the world does.”
I showed some clips to my three year old and four year old, and they immediately wanted to watch more and asked me to find longer clips of the show. The fanciest cartoon animation and in-your-face YouTube videos have nothing on the connection Doug creates with “Stinky Tales.”
And this isn’t by accident. Doug drew on 35 years of experience as an educator and parent to create “Stinky Tales,” including his current role as a kindergarten teacher at Marin Country Day School. He’s honed his craft for delivering important lessons to kids in an entertaining way, and through “Stinky Tales” he can share these messages to children world wide. He hopes to become a helpful resource to kids and parents alike and welcomes our questions on childhood issues. Doug’s motto: let’s work together to grow good people.
Here’s the fun part. We can help “Stinky Tales” get off the ground. To launch the first season, Doug and team have set up an Indiegogo fundraiser. The campaign closes soon, on January 16, 2018, but Indiegogo will still accept “in demand” donations after this date. Please consider giving what you can (if you’re feeling really generous, you can even get a Producer credit on the series!) and let’s help a local educator create a program that we can all feel good about showing to our kids.