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Who is Caillou? He's a four-year-old boy who preschoolers can't help but love. He is curious, fun, and loves to learn—and he faces all sorts of everyday dilemmas that preschoolers can easily identify with, in spite of the fact that he, and his world, are animated! 

Parents often wonder why Caillou is bald, yet I haven't heard even one child ask why he doesn't have hair. The likely reason is that his character started out as a baby and young toddler, and although his character evolved into a preschooler, his image was already well-established and familiar so that the bald head remained.

Caillou first debuted in books in 1987—in French. Les editions Chouette, a publishing company located in Montreal, created and published the series with a team of authors, illustrators, and psychologists. Approximately a decade after the first Caillou book appeared in print, Cinar created animated shorts based on the popular book series. Canadian children (particularly those residing in Quebec) enjoyed the cartoon for some years before PBS picked up the series.

Caillou stories closely mirror the real-world challenges and triumphs of early childhood. The emphasis is not only on discovery, but on conflict resolution. In fact, parents can learn a thing or two from Caillou's parents, with their gentle (yet realistic) guidance. Unlike most young child characters in the media, Caillou is given to whining and fussing at least once or twice per episode. The idea behind this behavior is not to encourage it, but to reflect the real-life conflicts of young children, which acts simultaneously to sensitize parents to the trials of childhood and to encourage kids to identify with the character.

New Caillou Movie

Caillou's Holiday Movie, released in the final quarter of 2004, is Caillou's first full-length movie, and it's a real treat. An advent calendar generates anticipation for Christmas, and Caillou takes part in many winter activities as he gets ready for the holidays. The movie explores and introduces children to holiday traditions in different cultures as well. The DVD edition is well worth purchasing, not only because of its extras in the form of an animated interview with Caillou and two multi-level games, but because it can be viewed in English, French, and Spanish. The multilingual feature is of particular interest to families who want to encourage second-language acquisition at an early age. Highly recommended. Our Rating: A

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Caillou's Holiday Movie (DVD) or Caillou's Holiday Movie (VHS) (paid links)]

A Look at Caillou Software Games

Caillou Magic Playhouse, Caillou - Birthday Party, and Caillou Four Seasons of Fun all feature a similar format, and are unlikely to disappoint little fans. (paid links)

Happily, these titles will please both parents and children. They play much like all-purpose preschool and Kindergarten titles--they cover a number of early learning skills like pre-reading and pre-math in their 8 activities each. For example, in Caillou's Magic Playhouse, players start out by exploring the rooms of Caillou's home, searching for 6 pieces of (easy-to-find) "treasure". As they click around each room, they uncover animated surprises and activities. Each game opens with a related animation from the show and an instruction screen, and, once complete, children are rewarded with a video from the puppet segment of the television show. 

Many of the activities are multi-level, and include such things as repeating patterns on a xylophone, catching butterflies, creating silly stories, and sorting socks with different designs and colors.

These programs are well done for the most part. The video clips are short and interesting, the activities are valuable and entertaining, and the design of the programs works rather well. Congratulations and instructions are sometimes excessive, however. 

We tend to prefer the Caillou Birthday Party, but the differences between the programs are minor.

Since the release of the above titles, Brighter Child Interactive has rearranged their activities to create the following titles. Note that these titles can be played in English, French, and Spanish (all languages are contained on one CD-ROM), and include workbooks or flashcards

Caillou Thinking Skills CD/Workbook Combo (paid link) focuses on skills including ordering and sorting, pattern extension, making predictions, identifying associations, logical thinking, and memory—all crucial cross-curricular skills. Play the activities with audio in English, Spanish, or French. A color workbook is included for learning away from the computer. This is a preschool-level CD-ROM. (paid link)

Caillou Colors & Shapes CD/Workbook Combo focuses on activities designed to encourage children to identify colors and shapes, and involves sorting and thinking skills. The activities can be played with audio in English, Spanish, or French. A color workbook is included for learning away from the computer. This is a preschool-level CD-ROM. 

(paid link)

Caillou Preschool includes activities featured in Caillou Alphabet, Caillou Colors & Shapes (above), and some of the activities in Caillou Coloring & Creativity. The activities can be played with audio in English, Spanish, or French. Flash cards are included to enhance learning away from the computer.

See our full review of Caillou Preschool. (paid link)


Caillou Kindergarten includes activities featured in Caillou Counting, Caillou Thinking Skills, and some of the activities in Caillou Coloring. The activities can be played with audio in English, Spanish, or French. Flash cards are included to enhance learning away from the computer. The opening menu introduces the title as Caillou Preschool, although the content is definitely Caillou Kindergarten. This is an unusual oversight, although it doesn't truly interfere with gameplay. If you can look past it, you might find the program quite educational and its multi-lingual component original and valuable. Some parents may "forgive" the sloppiness in final editing for these reasons.

Caillou Links

Visit Chouette Publishing, the book series publisher.

Visit PBS Kids: Caillou for information and online activities.

Visit Cinar's Official Caillou site.

Caillou Merchandise

Caillou Books An unbelievable number of Caillou books are available—one for practically every childhood situation, event, and dilemma! (paid links)

Caillou DVDs (paid links)

Caillou Videos (paid links)

Caillou Software (paid links)


December 2004                                                                                                 Comments? Email us.

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