Have you always wanted to visit a fictional coastal town, populated by rain boots? OK, me neither until now, but the animated children’s series Rainboot Cove definitely makes me wish I could spend some time there!
Rainboot Cove is an educational website that uses video, games, and quizzes in fun and unusual ways to explore language, history, and community. The meaning of various words is explored in the stories told about the town, and history is explored by finding similarities between themes found locally, and events in the past. Episodes of Rainboot Cove are made up of character voiceovers in the background telling a story while the camera pans over images of cartoon people super imposed over a realistic photo background.
The episode Fleur Du Boot Goes To Paris is a perfect example of how the show uses tangents to launch into storytelling on a particular topic. As Fleur Du Boot describes her experiences in Paris, ostensibly interested only in the excitement of city life, she manages to review key points in history, including the building of the Eiffel Tower, the Napoleonic wars, and the French Revolution.
While I found the stories somewhat simplistic, and oddly based on the lives of boots, the visual simplicity and humor will make this series very appealing to children. The website suggests that the target age is kids aged 9-13, although to me it feels more appropriate for younger ages. I also would like to see more story-showing, rather than telling with off-screen characters narrating. Why not animate the actual story being told and show the characters interacting? Or perhaps mimic different voices, even in an obvious way, to make it more experiential than just telling viewers that “something once happened, and here are some pictures of it”.
By blending live action with illustration and traditional puppetry the videos manage to evoke a feeling of reading classical children’s books such as Madeline, and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (one of my all time favorite books as a kid! Comment below if you’ve read this book with your children). The website is still being developed, but the goal of Rainboot Cove creators is to add games and quizzes related to each episode so viewers can extend their knowledge about topics introduced in the videos. Educational video is certainly not a new concept, but I like the way that Rainboot Cove takes a unique and interesting approach to both teaching through storytelling, a personal passion of mine, and to animation.
I look forward to further development of this series! Visit RainbootCove.com to learn more.