King Features Syndicate

There's a brand-new show on PBS KIDS GO! targeted to the 6- to 9-year-olds in your home. While you might recognize its title from the popular picture book "Animalia," the TV series is a lively breed of its own. After viewing the first few episodes, I couldn't help but wonder what went on behind the scenes when the producers transformed a richly illustrated ABC book into a TV series filled with magical adventures and stories where creatures rule.

I did a little sleuthing on my own and learned from Bruce Johnson, CEO of PorchLight Entertainment and one of the series' executive producers, that they took the funniest, most whimsical-looking characters from the book and gave them names, personalities and "voices" to match — from Allegra Alligator to zebras Zed and Zee.

After inventing a world of talking animals with their own foods and jobs, they needed to develop a reason for two kids to travel to Animalia. So, they created a large orb called "The Core," which enables animals to speak, write, listen and think. The Core was placed in the middle of Animalia's library, but when the kids arrive to this fantasy world, they find that it is faltering. With Animalia itself in jeopardy, the stage is set for the adventures to begin.

Like the creators of the TV series, imagine a new twist to a favorite picture book or story your family enjoys, then "produce" it in a new medium, low-tech style with finger puppets! Enjoy your own "thumbs up" puppet production as characters and scenery carry an original plot across your tabletop stage.

For a set of 10 finger puppets, you'll need:

1 pair of plain-colored cotton garden gloves

Fabric paints in squeeze bottles

Glue and scissors

Craft foam pieces

Odds and ends, such as feathers, tiny buttons, googly eyes, etc.

Cut off the 10 glove fingers to use each one as a separate puppet. Each one should be about 2 to 3 inches in length to fit your fingers. Tuck under the cut edges a quarter inch, and glue.

Make a face or symbol, such as sunshine or a tree, at the top of each finger puppet using paint and glued-on craft supplies.

Let dry.

Let the show begin!

Visit for an Activity Guide tied to Animalia's underlying lessons about language communication skills.

Donna Erickson's new award-winning television series "Donna's Day" is airing on public television nationwide. Visit to find out when it airs on your local PBS station and to sign up for Donna's e-newsletter. Her latest book is "Donna Erickson's Fabulous Funstuff for Families." © Donna Erickson. Dist. by King Features Syndicate