Between the Lions

Between the Lions
Created by Lou Berger
Christopher Cerf
Michael K. Frith
Kathryn Mullen
Linda Rath
Norman Stiles
Starring Fred Newman
Dr. Ruth Westheimer
Pam Arciero
Anthony Asbury
Heather Asch
Jennifer Barnhart
Tyler Bunch
James Kroupa
Peter Linz
Tim Lagasse
Kathryn Mullen
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 10
No. of episodes 130 (List of episodes)
Production company(s) Shadow Projects
WGBH-TV (2000–09)
WGBH Kids (2009–10)
Sirius Thinking, Ltd.
Distributor Mississippi Public Broadcasting
Original network PBS Kids
Original release April 3, 2000 – November 22, 2010 [1]
External links

Between the Lions is a PBS Kids puppet television series designed to promote reading. The show was a co-production between WGBH in Boston and Sirius Thinking, Ltd., in New York City, in association with Mississippi Public Broadcasting, in Mississippi. The show has won seven Daytime Emmy awards between 2001 and 2007. The target audience is children 5–8 years old. It has the same puppet style as Sesame Street[2] and several season 2 episodes, notably in Dance in Smarty Pants, had a few characters from Sesame Street guest appearing. The show premiered on April 3, 2000, replacing The Puzzle Place. Between the Lions started its 10th and final season on September 20, 2010, and the series finale aired on November 22 of that same year. It aired on PBS Kids until reruns ceased on August 31, 2011.


The series focuses on a family of anthropomorphic lions operating and living in a large, busy library starring alongside a cast of unusual characters such as Click, an electronic, anthropomorphic computer mouse. The program's format is intended to promote literacy and reading, and is perhaps most notable for sections of every episode in which the lions introduce an existing picture book to the audience and read it, a book that often presents a moral. Some episodes even have featured adaptions of well-known folk-tales or ancient myths or fables, while others have featured popular storybooks such as 'Click, Clack, Moo! Cows that Type', or shown the lions learning or benefiting from the lessons presented by the story. Aside from this, the series often features an array of educational segments formatted each in its own distinctive style, particularly parodies of well-known media redesigned educationally for younger audiences or simple animations, some sketches more repetitive than others. A distinctive feature of the series is that it is virtually never set outside of the library, as it usually chronicles the lions' experiences within it. Another segment features a pair of pigeons named Walter and Clay comically infuriating a living bust of the library's deceased founder, Barnaby B. Busterfield III, located in an upper section of the library, that is normally intended for comic relief.


Senator Robert Byrd with Cleo on Between the Lions

The main characters are the lion cubs Lionel (7 years old and in 1st grade) and Leona (4 years old) and their parents Theo (Theodore) and Cleo (Cleopatra), who read stories to the cubs in almost every episode, so they can get wild about reading.

Barnaby B. Busterfield III - A grumpy, armless, and legless rock statue that is the founder of the library, which is named after him, and lives on the second floor. He is often left annoyed by the antics of Walter and Clay Pigeon and, being a statue, can't go anywhere. He is more annoyed by anyone calling him "Buster" since he hates being called that for some reason. It is unknown if he knows the main characters or not, but it is possible that he might know them.

Walter and Clay Pigeon - The two birds that Barnaby talks to, and they talk to (and annoy) him. That's why he says, "don't call me Buster!" Walter and Clay Pigeon are true urban birds, but let's just say that they're not the brightest lights in the sky—without each other's help, they might never manage to complete their own sentences (for example, the Pigeons say, "We are going roller . . . uh . . . skating.").

Dr. Alexander Graham Nitwhite (often mispronounced as "Dr. Nitwit", which he hates being called, by his duck assistant, Watson and sometimes by other characters: a regular routine has Theo and Cleo saying hello to "Dr. Nitwit" and when they are corrected (Nitwhite) they proclaim "Right...") is a pelican scientist. In his skits, he announces to Watson that he's discovered "the only word in the entire English language" with a certain letter combination (which is nearly always related to the lesson of the whole episode). However, his "discoveries" always turn out to be incorrect, as Watson inadvertently points out; as such, his nickname is rather apt. His name is a pun on Alexander Graham Bell, the creator of the telephone.

Information Hen - The library's information specialist. Each time she appears, she gives information about the library and reading to various callers.

Click - A live computer mouse shaped after the rodent of the same name. Click is a very high tech mouse in the fact that she can drag and drop objects and characters into and out of books and websites. When a character needs her, they only need to call out her name (usually screaming if it's an emergency) since she doesn't mind helping others and will do what they tell her what to do. Her only hindrances are, being a computer mouse, she must always stay connected to a computer and that she is vulnerable to computer viruses, as shown in one episode.

Heath the Thesaurus - The library's thesaurus who is literally a giant dinosaur (a sauropod dinosaur-a Brontosaurus) as a pun on the word "thesaurus" or "the saurus" He often shows up unexpectedly when a character asks about a homophonic word or when a situation is called for one. He was voiced by Tyler Bunch in Season 1 and Peter Linz from Season 2 onwards.

Grandpa Lion - Cleo's father and Lionel and Leona's maternal grandfather and also the father-in-law of Theo. He visits the library in Out in Outer Space and tells of his friend Ellen Ochoa the first Hispanic American woman in Outer Space. Lionel and Leona even made a biography of Grandpa Lion. He was performed by Martin P. Robinson.

Aunt Priscilla and Uncle Otto Lion - Lionel and Leona's aunt and uncle who were told by Leona that they had 3 new cubs in But Mama But in which Leona visited in the episode. It would be that Aunt Priscilla and Uncle Otto would be Cleo's younger sister and brother and would be the maternal aunt and uncle of Lionel and Leona and the sister-in-law and brother-in-law of Theo Lion.

Humorous content

Between the Lions often makes wild parodies of (often children's) programming. The title itself is a twofold pun, first on the phrase "between the lines", the second is that many classic library buildings have two lions separated by the main entrance. Thus in order to enter the library, you must go "between the lions". Some recurring segments include:

Educational content

Between the Lions focuses on teaching reading and a love of books to young children in a fun, informative way.

Among the educational techniques used by Between the Lions are the following:

In addition to teaching basic reading, pronunciation, and grammar skills, Between the Lions also strives to promote a general love of reading in its viewers. It explores the many subjects that books can cover and shows how different people may enjoy reading different things. It also demonstrates the value of reference books and the importance of reading in other everyday activities like using a computer, cooking with a recipe, or finding your way with street signs.

Some Between the Lions episodes also deal with larger episodes related to literary matters: How to handle the scary parts of a story, for example, or the fact that it's okay to be a little sad if something bad happens to a character that you like in a book. It also shows how children can use books as jumping points for their own imagination.

Above all, every character on the show expresses a contagious enthusiasm for reading, with the underlying message being "Reading is cool".



Voice cast

Guest stars

Guest stars from other series have appeared in Between the Lions. 3 castmembers of ZOOM have appeared, teaching viewers how to read the word "Zoom." Al Roker, Jasmine Guy, Denyce Graves, Vanessa L. Williams and Jane Seymour have made appearances to read words to the viewers as well as some athletes. Joe Lynn Turner sung the song "Clobbered" in the episode "Giants and Cubs".

Emmy Awards

The series won many Emmy Awards. A more complete list is available from IMDB's page, Awards for "Between the Lions".[4] These awards include:

Outstanding Pre-School Children's Series - 2009

Executive Producers: Judith Stoia, Christopher Cerf, Norman Stiles, Brigid Sullivan. Series Producer: Beth Kirsch. Coordinating Producer: Rick Klein, Bill Berner, Diane Hartman, Chris Cardillo, Philippa Hall. Producer: Scott Colwell, Carol Klein.

Outstanding Writing in a Children's Series - 2008 & 2009

Norman Stiles, Ray Messecar, Peter K. Hirsch, Brian Meehl, Jennifer Hamburg, Sarah Durkee, Luis Santeiro, Christopher Cerf, Beth Kirsch, Fred Newman, Judith Stoia, Candy Kugel (PBS)

Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition - 2008 Nomination

Paul Jacobs, Sarah Durkee, Christopher Cerf

Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction/Set Decoration/Scenic Design - 2008 Nomination

Christopher Cerf, Norman Stiles, Judith Stoia, Brigid Sullivan, Bill Berner, Chris Cardillo, Philippa Hall, Diane Hartman, Rick Klein, Scott Colwell, Beth Kirsch, Carol Klein (PBS)

Outstanding Pre-School Children's Series - 2008 Nomination

Laura Brock, Karen Wing, Jerel Levanway, Bill Reinhart, Jack Thomas, Mary Goodson, Ray Green, Jimmy Thrasher (PBS)

Composition - 2008 Nomination

Paul Jacobs, Sarah Durkee, Christopher Cerf (PBS)

Cancelled animated spin-off

An animated spin-off was planned to air, produced by CloudKid and consisting of four episodes. The first two would have focus on nursery tales (The Ant and the Grasshopper and The Three Little Pigs), while the other would have focused on seasons and weather (one about wind, the other about snow/winter).[5] However, due to the closure of Cloudkid, the spin-off has been cancelled.[6] Buzzco Associates, an animation studio who worked on Between the Lions uploaded a clip from the spinoff on their Vimeo account.[7]

See also


External links

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