“David Hasselhoff would never sing a song like that!” declares Winnifred, a stuffy British puppet on JellyTelly, of the show’s theme song. JellyTelly, the latest brainchild of VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer, is a daily Internet program that combines puppets, live entertainers, brief kid-hosted documentaries (a la Postcards from Buster), and hip animation in a series of two- to five-minute videos. Geared more for slightly older children than the preschoolers who make up much of the VeggieTales fan base, JellyTelly showcases the talents of young Christian performers and filmmakers, such as the Bentley Brothers and a band called GodRocks, alongside new characters with familiar voices (the pirate Captain Pete sounds a lot like VeggieTales’ Pa Grape) and old video favorites Hermie and Wormie.
JellyTelly clips, which teach children about the books of the Bible, missionary work, and biblical principles, are a fun way to teach kids about the Christian faith, much like Schoolhouse Rock made learning civics and grammar fun for a previous generation. With high production quality and humor that can appeal to all ages, the daily JellyShow show is good enough to keep children entertained while helping parents reinforce the faith lessons they want their kids to learn. Clips are also available to purchase and download for use in children’s ministries for $4.99.
In addition to the daily show, the JellyTelly website offers about a dozen video games featuring the show’s characters. Familiar classics with a JellyTelly twist, including Spot the Difference and Tetris with Alfred Wilberwhale, are on the menu alongside other zany kids’ games that include Pirate Parachute, Alarm in the Lab, and Puppet Producer. In short, the site offers kids hours of entertainment with fresh material every day.
On the parents’ video on the JellyTelly website, Phil Vischer explains the goals of the site, which launched in fall 2008: “JellyTelly is a way to bring the Bible to life for kids on a daily basis, to show them the work of the church around the world and the role they can play in it, Vischer mentioned Jellyfish, the parent company of JellyTelly, in his 2007 memoir, Me, Myself, and Bob: A True Story about Dreams, God, and Talking Vegetables. After telling the story of the development and eventual bankruptcy of Big Idea, the company that made VeggieTales a familiar sight in Christian households, Vischer discusses the lessons he learned from the experiences, including the need to allow God to direct his plans, instead of making them up for himself. With this lesson learned, Vischer chose a jellyfish as the symbol of his new company because a jellyfish cannot move itself but must depend on the motion of the current. Depending on God’s movement for inspiration and direction, Jellyfish has a good start toward meeting its stated mission. The video and games on the JellyTelly website are a lot of fun for kids, and parents can depend on the site to help teach their children about the Christian faith.