Blue Hair, Zebras, and Giraffes

The Cat loves animals. After all, his nickname is from how he decided to become a cat as a toddler. His actual name is rather unusual in its spelling, and so much like me - it is rare to find something personalized.

Take his love of animals plus his desire to have something personalized, and you've got Billy Blue Hair. Their "Billy and Me" category contains a personalized educational DVD entitled "Why Do Giraffes Have Long Necks?" Through The Parent Bloggers Network, the Cat received his own personalized DVD.

The cover of the DVD has his name, spelled properly. Then within the video, his name crops up as Billy addresses him throughout the adventure.

Initially, the Cat was a bit skeptical. He loved the DVD cover since it has his name on it, but when he read the title, he remarked, "Well giraffes have long necks because they need to be able to reach the leaves on the trees." I nodded, but told him the DVD would be more than just that.

Indeed, the Cat was captivated by the show. He giggled at Billy and was clearly excited that Billy spoke directly at him. The show itself begins in a cartoon universe, but then switches to a live-action nature filmy-type thing. While the footage is what you might expect on the Nature Channel: beautiful and high-quality, but usually accompanied by either a too-sophisticated scientist's analysis or that preachy drone of those old school filmstrips, Billy's narration is upbeat and fun. He appears as his cartooned-self at the bottom of the live action. He talks about what the viewer is seeing. He poses questions to the viewer to keep them engaged. And of course, when he uses the child's name, they'll no doubt pay attention. Billy also adds some little cartoon elements to the show, like putting a hat on a lion.

The Cat's attention didn't waver. He was fascinated by the animals and definitely glad that Billy kept saying his name. He watched the whole thing several times over before moving to a new activity. My guess is that younger kids would be similarly captivated because Billy makes the education fun. The nature tidbits are broken up by Billy's storyline, which helps maintain interest. Billy talks to the kids, so keeps them involved in the learning process. I certainly learned new things about some of the animals, too. It is a nice painless way of learning something.

Spliggle wishes he could have a personalized DVD. Ironically enough, Splig's name is more common than the Cat's, and yet it is not part of Billy Blue Hair's database of over 400 names. Fortunately, the Cat's name sounds like a more common name, so it was included. Billy Blue Hair can customize the spelling of the name: the DVD comes with a personalized cover and a personalized title screen on the actual program. As long as a name in the database sounds like your child's name, you can purchase the personalized DVD with any spelling.

In that regard, some of the "over 400" names in the database are actually alternative spellings. (But even if your particular alternative spelling isn't listed, you can order it.) Honestly, some of the names in the database seemed very unusual, while some of the more "common" names I would have thought would be included, aren't. Thankfully there is a "request form" on their website so perhaps they will add more names to the possibilities.

Billy Blue Hair also has a "standard edition" which is non-personalized. As much fun as the personalization is for the packaging and the seven times Billy pronounces the child's name throughout the show, it isn't vital. When Billy poses questions to the audience without using a name, the interaction is still there.

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original post at: http://www.karianna.us/reviews/2008/10/blue_hair_zebras_and_giraffes_1.html