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December FableFriday: Global Tinker’s CEO and Executive Producer, Sep Riahi, and Creative Producer, Olivia Levenson

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It all starts with an idea. Makers themselves, Global Tinker’s CEO and Executive Producer, Sep Riahi, and Creative Producer, Olivia Levenson, have lit up the children’s media stage with their invention of the award-winning property The Paper Girls. The series went home as a winner of the 2017 MIPTV Digital Short Form Series Pitch, competing against the industry’s top series developers, and it was most recently awarded Best TV Series Animated Short at the 2017 Palm Springs International Animation Festival.

Global Tinker, a two year old venture-backed transmedia studio that inspires young minds through STEAM content, are preparing youth for the 21st Century by fostering creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking skills. Leading Global Tinker’s efforts in that mission is The Paper Girls, produced in collaboration with FableVision Studios. The short-form pilot series follows the adventures of best friends and makers, Caily and Reese, and aims to empower young girls to imagine, create, and learn through the exploration of the arts, science, and engineering.

“The feedback from the first three pilot episodes has been truly amazing, from the initial ‘kid testing’ sessions we conducted with Dr. Natascha Crandall to the awards to strong interest from international distributors who are increasingly seeking mobile-friendly but meaningful content that truly engages children’s imagination,” shares Sep. “Our plan is to produce 15-25 more episodes with FableVision in 2018 en route to another 25 in 2019 and truly develop The Paper Girls into a ‘must watch – must make’ transmedia property with its own physical and digital product lines.

Read on to learn more about Sep and Olivia, The Paper Girls, the other projects they’re tinkering with—and how with some hard work and imagination, “if you can dream it, you can make it!”


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You’ve spent much of your career in media creating empowering content for girls. How do your past production experiences influence what you do at Global Tinker, and why do you think it is important to create stories like these for young women?
Sep:
Like many, I’ve always pulled for the underdogs and tried to produce projects for the forgotten children around the world be it through my own productions or my work at the Sesame Workshop. Unfortunately, given societal and technology pressures today, girls are often the underdogs of the modern world. According to a very recent joint NYU/ Illinois and Princeton study, by age six girls start thinking of themselves as less brilliant than boys even though girls show just as much – if not more – STEM aptitude than boys.  Our focus on producing stories, characters, and products is our humble attempt to change the false narrative that girls are often subject to in the media.  With The Paper Girls, in particular, we hope to inspire girls who are that very impressionable ages between 6 and 8 to not succumb to stereotypical messaging that consumes us and tinker with their own ideas, create projects, and unleash their own imaginations. 

What inspired your foray into the children’s media world and how did you get your start?
Sep: I started my career at a large LA studio structuring film and media ventures, however, the combination of becoming an uncle, witnessing the positive impact of a kids’ feature film I produced, and reading my fair share of child development convinced me that producing children’s media is the most direct way I can leave my mark. Also, my experience serving and managing Sesame Workshop’s global digital distribution and home video groups truly opened my eyes to the real life impact and potential of combining pedagogy and engaging stories.

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Marie Curie is a key influence on The Paper Girls—Caily even has a Marie Curie poster in her room! How did Marie Curie’s La Cooperative spark the “maker movement” present in The Paper Girls?
Sep:
Marie Curie was a true visionary in many areas of her life, not just in her scientific research. She and her contemporaries did not accept the status quo when it came to the education of their own children. They took matters into their own hands by creating La Coopérative to provide a much more diverse learning environment, especially with regard to combining the global arts and the sciences. In many ways, they were creating their own “STEAM curriculum” before any formally existed.  As is the case with many over-burdened and time-stretched families today, they played a very active role in their children’s education, despite professional pressures in their own lives. Global Tinker and the team at FableVision were inspired by their efforts and hope to spread their message in subsequent episodes of The Paper Girls.

The world of Confetti is where Caily and Reese explore creative ideas to solve their real-world problems. If you could jump into Confetti and have Kami and Dev help you with something, what would it be? 
Olivia: Positive impact on the environment and concerns around global warming have always been important to us. How amazing would it be if the characters invented a mini filtering device to help with air pollution? Plus, we all know Kami’s big on keeping Confetti clean, so we think she’d be on board with this one. Leveraging the power of media and the “maker mindset” to encourage children to tackle the environmental issues is a big priority for us and we’re backing it up by producing shows that address these issues. Pilot episode # 2 of The Paper Girls, for example, promotes how trash can be used to create innovative products, and we hope to produce more episodes with a similar message.

The authentic paper-y look and feel of Confetti is a huge part of the world’s appeal. How did you know this was the right art style for the show?
Olivia: We’re very fortunate to have worked with such innovative and talented artists at FableVision in developing the world of Confetti. Texture and depth were major contributors in the paper-y look and feel, and it was important to distinguish the visual contrast between the flatter real world and the layered paper world. We also wanted the art to have a level of sophistication that’s unique to today’s television landscape. And finally, the “wow” factor: our biggest challenge was creating a world and art style that no one has ever seen before.

What was your experience like working with the FableVision team on The Paper Girls?
Sep: The team at FableVision has been absolutely wonderful on every level, from creative development to execution to production. Truth be told, given international government funding and support, there’s no shortage of “animation houses” that produce technically excellent work. However, there are very few production companies specializing in children’s educational media who truly understand and are passionate about every aspect of the industry and produce world-class quality work. For us, FableVision is at the very top of that list.

All good shows come primed with a catchy theme song, and we can’t get “If You Dream It, You Can Make It” out of our heads. Where did the inspiration come from and what went into creating it?
Olivia: To start—the song wouldn’t be what it is today without the incredible creativity from FableVision’s Vice President of Creative Tone Thyne, the FableVision team, and Junior Joe. As you can tell by the title, the messaging we wanted to get across was pretty simple: if you can dream it, you can make it! From there, the process was a groundwork of building on the show’s themes—including makerspaces, boundless creativity, and positive social and global impact.

Why is STEAM education important to you?
Olivia and Sep: STEAM’s real world applications contribute to engaging and thought-provoking content. We’re passionate about adding our version of the arts to STEAM as it is part and parcel of the making process, from planning projects to designing, tinkering, and presenting them!

The Maker Movement is making waves on social media. Who are some of your favorite makers you’ve met online? What are some of the exciting projects you’ve come across?
Sep: As mentioned, we’ve created Global Tinker as a media company that will fight to celebrate the lives of underdogs. What excites us most about the maker movement and where we see the biggest impact is its influence on children’s lives, especially the “99%” around the world who may not have access to expensive electronic maker kits. Today, YouTube is a massive repository for great children’s inventions that can be viewed and shared by all, inspiring a global audience, hence our insistence on launching our properties on YouTube and other global networks for maximum reach and impact.

Global Tinker has been tinkering with some fantastic projects. What’s next for Global Tinker and The Paper Girls?
Sep: We have seven projects in active development or production this year. More specifically—and in addition to The Paper Girls—we are very excited about a graphic novel series called the Style Engineers Worldwide, which we’re officially launching in December. It’s for tweens and focuses on creating “wearable tech for good.” We also have a STEM refugee education app concept which was a finalist at the MIT / UN competition last spring. Three of our other media projects range from a global food show to a picture book series that highlights the resilience of children who have experienced war.


You can check out Global Tinker’s site here, and learn more about The Paper Girls here. Follow their creative adventure on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and on YouTube!

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Thanksgiving Traditions: A Peace of the Pie

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Thanksgiving traditions are as colorful as the falling leaves. Every kitchen has its own rules and recipes, but on each set table, memories are the main ingredient. The spirit of Thanksgiving is often characterized by the company we find ourselves in. However, there is something to be said for the quieter moments in which we reflect and discover what we are truly thankful for.

Founder Peter H. Reynolds shares one of these moments, “I remember taking a walk after Thanksgiving dinner with a family friend when I was about 11. We walked to the center of our town of Chelmsford, MA. That was my first experience and sensation of having the world come to a slow stop. No cars. We walked in the center of the road downtown. It was very peaceful. Years later, our friend became an abbot for a Trappist monastery in the Amazon. It seems his way to find peace here on Earth was with him early on.”

Peace of mind is a theme that goes hand in hand with the holiday. We stop and consider what we are grateful for, and what brings out the season’s serenity for each of us. We find peace in our families and friends, and we honor that peace in traditions new and old, planned and impromptu, hectic and hilarious.

Here at FableVision, we are an eclectic cornucopia of individuals with roots reaching far and wide. This holiday season, we asked some festive FableVisionaries to share the roots we’ve built in memories by telling a story about their own Thanksgiving routines—from food, to family, to furry football stars.


Sarah Ditkoff, Communications Director
Every Thanksgiving, my Pop-Pop is responsible for setting the table. When I was little, while my grandmother's kitchen was a hot clatter of pots and pans, he slipped into the quiet(er) dining room, took out the nice china, and arranged the place settings. I joined him when I was small and followed instructions, "knife faces inwards towards the plate, glasses on the right side." Now that I am older, I love setting the table. It is a calming exercise of preparing our home—a ritual for making loved ones feel comfortable and welcome.


Brian Grossman, Technical Director
I love food. Anyone that knows me knows this is true. So, it’s a pretty big deal when you learn that the thing I like most about Thanksgiving, the foodiest of all holidays, is actually my family. With busy lives, it’s hard to make time to see the extended family. But every Thanksgiving, I can count on seeing the aunts, uncles, and cousins I love. It’s always comforting to be seated around a table with a couple dozen people just as crazy as me.

Our extended family has been consistently getting together for Thanksgiving since 2014, which you can read more about here


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David Welsh, Marketing Intern
My favorite thing about Thanksgiving is the turkey. Even when traditions fade away or new ones don't stick, there will always be turkey. When the shape of the table changes or when different people are around the table, there will always be turkey. When you have to run between houses trying to make it to separate family Thanksgivings, well, in that case there will probably be MORE turkey. And even when I was a vegetarian for a couple of years, I still had the turkey. I really, really like turkey.


Samantha Bissonnette, Producer
Football has always somehow been a part of my family's Thanksgiving traditions. Whether it was playing football in the yard with my cousins or watching my brother's game for our local high school, we always found a way to get outside and play. Now our Thanksgivings change every year—last year my now-husband's family came to visit my parent's house, this year we'll be in Chicago but we still find a way to throw the ball around and play keep-away from our star running back, Kovu.


Didi Hatcher, Lead Animator

I didn’t grow up in the US, so I don’t have fond childhood memories of Thanksgiving. However, I have plenty of memories from my early years here. My college would shut down for Thanksgiving break, as all the students would go to their homes, and I had nowhere to stay. However, friends would always invite me to spend the holiday with their families, and share their meals and homes with me. Some of them were immigrant families themselves, and I always enjoyed seeing the cultural blend that Thanksgiving was at their houses—turkeys and pies next to dumplings, durian, kugel, blinchiki. It was the quintessential American experience!


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Mitul Daiyan, Communications Strategist
I come from an immigrant home so Thanksgiving wasn’t celebrated with the usual western fanfare of pies, cranberry sauces, or even turkey. My siblings and I longed for the Norman Rockwell version of roast turkey we saw on television but during high school, when my family finally made the splurge on 15 pounds of poultry, they turned it into what they knew best—curry! We didn’t quite appreciate it back then, but now turkey curry has become a special delicacy as part of the Thanksgiving dinners I host, and sits proudly alongside those Rockwell-esque traditional pies and sauces.


Olivia Jones, Marketing Intern
Every other Thanksgiving, my family heads down to south Texas for a feasting extravaganza of epic proportions at my grandparents house. My mom's four other siblings and their families in tow, it's quite the social exercise as well. When "the younger cousins" want to get a break from small talk, a tradition we have is to head up to the attic and play the 1993 Aladdin game start to finish on the old Super Nintendo. Once Jafar's been taken down a notch—and hunger has kicked UP a notch—we follow the wafting scent of homemade rolls down the spiral staircase, and make a *beeline* for the honey jar (filled from the hive in my grandma’s backyard!)


Christina Kelly, Production Designer
Many major life events have caused my traditions and life routines to fall out of any kind of normalcy, but one thing that has never changed is getting to share Thanksgiving with my mom. Every year, my mom puts together an elaborate feast of some of my favorites: mashed potatoes, homemade chunky cranberry sauce, and stuffing with turkey liver chopped into it. My mom and her partner Bill always open their doors to neighbors, friends, family, and whichever loved one we can think of that might need a special dinner that day. It might be her grandmother's recipes that make me hungry the day before, but it's the company and the feeling of home my mom provides—no matter where each November has taken us—that make the holiday special.


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Jordan Bach, Senior Developer
While I have fond memories of spending Thanksgiving with my immediate family when I was young, I've loved the years spent with friends and their families. Meeting your friend's friend's aunt over stuffing and pie and finding a way to connect is what it's about.

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November FableFriday: Looking Back on 20 Years with Karen Bresnahan

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FableVision has never known a day without Karen Bresnahan, our much-admired executive producer for the last 20 years. As EP, Karen has touched and guided every one of the hundreds of projects that have come through our door, but more than that, she has touched the lives of every person lucky enough to have worked with her. Under her tutelage, our staff has grown, matured, and thrived.

“FableVisionaries,” as we have dubbed ourselves, are a creative, talented, passionate lot. We can get a bit messy and rowdy in the throes of production, mostly because we care so much about the work we are doing and the people we are doing it for. In every project, the creative vision, beautiful artwork, and slick technology needs to be balanced with the budget, schedule, and client’s vision. It’s a bit of a dance, a blend of reality and magic, and through it all, Karen has been the perfect dance partner.

“It’s been 20 years of laughter and learning, challenges and successes, creating and collaborating—such a rewarding place to come to every day,” shares Karen. “I turn 70 years old this month, and although I will miss FableVision, now seems like the right time to hand over the reins.”

And we are going to miss her; not just Karen the executive producer who always knows the right thing to do, even though it might not be the easy thing, but Karen the incredible, caring, funny, and loyal person who is so completely and eternally a part of the FableVision fabric.

Looking ahead, FableVision’s senior producer, Peter Stidwill, will take the reins as executive producer later this month. Peter was first introduced to us as one of FableVision’s clients, and then joined our staff in 2016. We are fortunate to have such a familiar face and brilliant mind taking on this crucial role

We’ll be forever grateful for the time Karen spent with us. Her delight in taking a summertime lunch-time stroll to James Hook for a lobster roll, her exhaustive knowledge of rock ‘n’ roll music, unabashed fandom for The Stones and Elvis, and dedication to her Red Sox are just a few of the fond memories she leaves with us. We share her excitement for the next phase of her journey. Read on in this special-edition FableFriday to hear Karen look back on her last two decades at our studio.

What’s your journey to FableVision story?
In March 1977, I started my media career as a production assistant at a Boston video studio. I was working as a freelance producer for Paul Reynolds at CF Video in 1996, when Peter Reynolds started FableVision in the same location. I produced some early FableVision projects, and joined the staff as the executive producer in 2000.

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For over 40 years I have been a part of Boston’s media production community, a community filled with talented folks who helped make working enjoyable. I produced videos, films, interactive videodiscs, CD-ROMs, websites, games, apps, and exhibits, and loved every job I had. But the position that brought me the most joy is here at FableVision.

After over 20 years of being a FableVisionary, what has collaborative storytelling come to mean to you?
To me, collaborative storytelling is telling stories or integrating stories into media in a way that learners feel they are taking part or collaborating, and their experience is more meaningful.

How is FableVision unique in the world of media production studios?
FableVision is mission driven, creating stories that matter, stories that move. Peter Reynolds founded the company with this mission, and it’s still the driving force behind all we do. It’s unique and such a good feeling when your work is designed to help move the world to a better place.

In the 20 years since its inception, how has FableVision evolved? What elements have stayed the same?
So much has evolved over these 20 years. FableVision started with no programmers and now has an entire technology department. We started with a studio manager plus one freelance producer, and now have a six-person producer team. The art style on day one was only Peter’s and now we have multiple visual styles to offer. The staff expanded. We moved to Boston. But just as many things have remained the same like the focus on storytelling, team collaboration, emphasis on learning, company culture, and being part of a family.

Share a memorable learning moment from your experience working at FableVision.
This is going to sound trite, but I have learned something every day that I’ve been here.

What are some of your favorite studio traditions?
Music playing all day, valentines made by hand, the holiday book swap party, Kaizen days, homemade waffle breakfasts, team members’ art in the studio, FableFun days, and I even love taking part in our weekly staff meetings. A short-lived but special tradition was when Peter Reynolds drew illustrations on our paycheck envelopes.

As executive producer, what has been your most meaningful accomplishment? What are you proud of?
I’m aware I have my own style of leading and managing that involves a mix of honesty, trust, attitude, caring, and intuition. So most meaningful to me are the team members who have considered me a mentor, and are now leading with their own version of that style.

I’m most proud of the production processes and standards we have at FableVision. I started 20 years ago with a goal of setting up procedures for budgeting and scheduling, and with the help of great team members, we established best practices over the years and continue to improve the process.

How has the FableVision team shaped your path and shaped your growth as a creative professional?
The executive team always respected my ideas and allowed me to make final production decisions. I am so appreciative of Gary Goldberger, our president and executive creative. We each contribute our unique knowledge and vision, and the blending that results has led to a path of success.  As a creative professional, I was allowed to grow by managing teams that include all types of personalities and skills, trying to bring out what’s best for FableVision from everyone.

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Over the years, you have helped FableVision adopt technology to enhance learning. What were some key milestones and pivot points?
Probably the key milestone was when we hired Brian Grossman as technical director. Prior to that, I managed the developers as part of our project teams. Brian on our team equaled adopting technology.

When we first started creating interactive programs, content was presented via video or text, and activities or games were designed so users could practice or be tested on that content. All that changed when we collaborated to produce the Lure of the Labyrinth game with Maryland Public Television and the MIT Education Arcade. It was designed so users explored content through story-based gameplay with the goal of learning. That was one of the studio’s first forays into game-based learning, now a key product and service at FableVision.

What are three common characteristics in a FableVisionary?
Creative. Dedicated. Kind.

Peter Stidwill, FableVision's Senior Producer

Peter Stidwill, FableVision's Senior Producer

Peter Stidwill will be taking over the reins at FableVision as executive producer. What has your experience been like working together?
Oh wow. Working with Peter has been a highlight. I am sorry that my time working with him was so short, and he is a big reason I leave feeling so positive about the future of FableVision.

What are you most looking forward to about retirement?
Sleeping in, drinking my morning tea at home while looking out at the river, going to yoga classes, spending time with my family and friends, and eventually discovering what I want to do for my next life adventure.

You’re FableVision’s rock star. You know we can’t let you go without having you contribute to our creativity playlist. Share your top five picks for songs we should play to keep our productivity flowing.
Nope. Instead I’m sharing all my Spotify playlists with you, and I’ll keep updating them so you can listen to Karen Faves, Chuck Berry Covered, 60’s Deep Cuts, Random Faves, etc. I hope when you all miss me and want inspiration from the roots of Rock ‘n’ Roll, you’ll put one of my playlists on in the studio. And when I stop by for a visit, I’ll be listening.

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From the Musical Mind of Laurie Berkner

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Laurie Berkner’s music is made for toe-tapping. With roots in early education, Laurie began her illustrious career in the niche genre of “kindie-rock” by producing catchy tunes for her students. Since then, Laurie has made a name for herself with charming, kid-friendly, parent-approved hits that include a creative medley of words and sounds to delight her listeners. Recently, she teamed up with FableVision and our Vice President of Creative, Tone Thyne, to bring the spirit of childhood whimsy to Zebra Penguin Skunk: Beach, the new animation from Sesame Studios that introduces young learners to an early understanding of engineering and creative problem-solving concepts. Right from the start, the project was a perfect fit for Laurie.

“To me, music is about connection. We use it to connect to concepts and to connect to other people, both of which are vital learning tools. The whole musical theme came to me the very first time I sat down and played along to the video,” says Laurie. “With this piece, I was purely inspired by watching the animation. I immediately heard a ukulele—partly because it takes place at the beach and because the uke can be made to sound simple and innocent.”

Read on as we chat with Laurie to learn more about how the two-toned trio of Zebra, Penguin, and Skunk sparked her creativity, her process behind composing a musical score, and all the new projects up her talented sleeves. And be sure to tune into Zebra Penguin Skunk: Beach exclusively available today on Sesame Studios!


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The New York Times calls you theAdele of the preschool crowd.” How did you become interested in the “kindie rock” genre?
I started out as a preschool music teacher in various schools and daycare centers, and began writing songs to sing with the kids I saw every day. This was long before the term “kindie rock” had been coined. I loved the creativity and immediacy of making music with young kids and was thrilled when I realized I could actually make a career out of it.

What attracted you to Zebra Penguin Skunk: Beach?
As soon as I saw Zebra Penguin Skunk: Beach I fell in love with the animation. I had been thinking a lot about how I would like to try my hand at scoring something visual and paying a lot of attention to other people’s work in that field. It was such a wonderful surprise when FableVision reached out to me to work on this project! I was excited to create music representing these adorable characters who express so much without using words—just the way young children often do—and was immediately inspired the first time I sat down to explore some musical ideas. 

What was the process like working with FableVision and Tone Thyne on this project?
It was fantastic. Tone is not only funny, fun, and extremely easy to work with, he is also exceptionally talented. I fully trust his artistic instincts—especially when it comes to creating content for kids. The process could not have been smoother or more pleasurable.

Neither Zebra, Penguin, or Skunk speak with words, but your music plays an important part in conveying the engineering challenge the trio face. When you were composing the music for Zebra Penguin Skunk, how did each of the characters inspire you?
I wanted Penguin to start out as the happy whistler and for that happy theme to go away whenever a challenge arose. When Skunk joins him and Penguin starts again to build a sandcastle, we hear the happy whistling come back. When they are both clearly disappointed at not being able to stop the water from ruining their work and Zebra finally appears, there is a pause in the whistling as we wait to see what he might do. The happy theme comes back as Zebra builds a wall—which finally allows them to protect their feat of engineering! I also loved using my guitar to express both the sad moments when the ocean would get the better of their structures and the bright spots of triumph when something they did worked!

Music is a crucial component of early childhood learning and development. As a former music teacher, why do you think music education is so important?
Music provides us with ways to express ourselves so that others understand us better and we get better at communicating. It allows us to use our creativity through our bodies and our minds, so it’s accessible to almost anyone. It is the best way to incorporate new information and to retain it. I think that shared musical experiences give us all a more open way of viewing the other people we share this planet with, both culturally and individually.

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Your new book releases November 7 from Simon & Schuster, based on your popular song, Pillowland. What can you tell us about the book and what it was like adapting the song with Camille Garoche’s art?
I am so proud of this gorgeous book. I say that having had very little to do with the artwork! Unlike my previous picture book, We are the Dinosaurs, illustrated by Ben Clanton, where we talked through many ideas of what story the pictures would tell before he started working, Camille took the text she was sent and just ran with it. She uses a technique that is a combination of collage and diorama, and then she photographs her creations and finesses the final pictures digitally. She really created stunning illustrations for Pillowland and invented a visual dreamworld that beautifully expresses the ideas in the song. I love her portrayals of family in the story and characters in the music. 

Do you have any upcoming dates where people can hear you perform?
We will actually launch Pillowland at a release party on November 4 at the Peter B. Lewis Theater at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, NY. I will do a very short musical performance, read from the book, and sign the copies that are included in the ticket price. There will also be an ongoing art workshop based on Camille’s illustrations.

Laurie and her bandmates

Laurie and her bandmates

Prior to that, I will do a Facebook Live concert on November 1 in honor of National Brushing Day. I’ll be sharing my tooth brushing song that I wrote for Tom’s of Maine and give everyone a sneak peek at the book.

I’m also performing many holiday shows with the band in November and December as well as solo shows coming up as soon as January 2018. You can see all of the details here on the concert page of my website

Any other new projects you’re working on?
Yes! We are just starting rehearsals for a project that I wrote the music for. It’s an Off-Broadway family musical produced by New York City Children’s Theater (NYCCT) called Interstellar Cinderella, based on the picture book written by Deborah Underwood,  with script by NYCCT’s Barbara Zinn Krieger. The story is a futuristic and feminist take on the original fairytale that is inspiring and fun! In a totally different musical direction, I also just released an album called Laurie Berkner: The Dance Remixes, where I made EDM (Electronic Dance Music) versions of 14 of my classic songs. I think it came out really well, and it’s a great way to get younger kids up and moving while providing older siblings with a trip down memory lane. 


Check out Zebra Penguin Skunk: Beach! and be sure to subscribe to Sesame Studios for brand new videos to make you smarter, stronger, and kinder!

 

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Six Fun and (Not Too) Frightening Games for Halloween Night

As we gear up for Extra Life 2017, we’ve got games on the mind. With Halloween around the corner, have we got a treat for you! Being enthusiastic gamers, we know that spooky games and stories help us learn—and they’re fun to play. We scoured the internet and our portfolio to share a few games that are better than candy. From FableVision favorites to eerie apps to indie darlings, here are six handpicked games with something sweet for every age group.

Grab your plastic vampire fangs and bite into this incredible roundup of Halloween-themed games from Team FableVision.


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Lure of the LabyrinthFableVision Studios, Maryland Public Television, and MIT Education Arcade
Time for a costume party! In Lure of the Labyrinth, suggested for middle-school students, players can pick out masks and costumes to blend in with the monsters in a subterranean world. Once players infiltrate the monster factory, they solve math problems to progress through the story about the hero’s quest to rescue their pet. Lure of the Labyrinth reinforces math and literacy skills using a standards-based curriculum through a challenging and fun adventure. Play Lure of the Labyrinth on your browser.


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Toca Boo, Toca Boca
Hide-and-Creep! In Toca Boo, little Bonnie dons an adorable ghost costume to playfully scare her family in this digital toy from our friends at Toca Boca. Each room has several objects to interact with and hide under as Bonnie waits for family members to appear. Bonnie can turn off lights, flush toilets, and rock rocking horses to raise tension. Once her family is nervous, she strikes with a delightfully cute “BOO!” The simple, intuitive controls and variety of rooms, family members, and interactive objects gives pre-schoolers dozens of opportunities for creativity and imaginative haunting. Toca Boo is available on mobile platforms.


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Minecraft, Mojang
The immensely popular Minecraft is famous for the creativity, engineering, and programming skills it encourages, but it can be spooky too! In Survival Mode, a menagerie of monsters emerge to harass players, which encourages players to strategically design shelter and place light sources. Monsters include the Halloween classics: zombies, skeletons, and spiders…yikes! For players who want to build free from danger but still want to get into the Halloween spirit, there are several expansion packs that add Halloween-themed textures and worlds (pumpkins everywhere!) and even Halloween costumes for avatars. Minecraft is available on PC, Mac, mobile, and consoles.


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Gone Home, The Fullbright Company
In Gone Home, 21-year-old Katie Greenbriar returns from college to her family’s new house on a dark and stormy night, but finds no one waiting for her. A cryptic note from her sister Sam sets Katie on a path through the creaky house as she tries to solve the mystery of where her family has gone. Using an immersive first person perspective and outstanding environmental storytelling, Gone Home is an easy-to-play game that can be finished in a single evening—perfect for Halloween night! Through game-based social and emotional learning, Gone Home is a game about empathy and family that conveys LGBT themes in a way that only an immersive, interactive medium can achieve. Because Gone Home is a spooky story about young adult issues, it is recommended for older teens and adults. Gone Home is available on PC, Mac, and consoles.


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Zombies, Run!, Six to Start
This app combines interactive fiction and fitness for a unique combination that will have you running for your life after your Halloween candy binge! In a world overrun by zombies, you play a “runner” tasked with gathering supplies for your community. When you go for your real-world morning jog, you start a supply gathering mission in the game. Your progress is tracked like in conventional fitness apps, but music and actors on your “radio” fill you in on the story. Be careful not get too caught up in the drama, however, because when zombies appear, you must RUN! Zombies, Run! is available on mobile platforms.


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You Snooze, You Lose, FableVision Studios and Random House
When it’s time to curl up with a scary bedtime story, Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller’s book Nightmares! has you covered. In addition to creating a website for the game, FableVision produced the supplemental game, You Snooze, You Lose, an endless runner game, featuring the main character Charlie running up the stairs of his stepmother’s purple mansion. The goal of the game is to keep Charlie awake. If he falls asleep he’ll start having nightmares. Players collect items on the stairs to keep him awake—a fan, a glass of ice water, and an air horn—and avoid items that are sure to make him sleepy, like a pillow or cuddly teddy bear. Make sure those eyelids don’t droop too far! You Snooze, You Lose is available to play on the FableVision-created Nightmares! website.


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These six games are terrific tricks and treats for Halloween and a great addition to our Extra Life game-a-thon! With Extra Life only a few days away, Team FableVision will have enough fun to last during our 24-hour marathon of gaming on Nov. 4 for Boston Children’s Hospital and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

If you’d like to help us scare up enough fundraising to beat this year’s goal, be sure to check out our Extra Life team page to donate!

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