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That's It -- A Bilingual Show

'Maya & Miguel' Is an Animated Blend of English and Spanish

Thursday, November 11, 2004; Page C14

If you hear the phrase "¡Eso es!" on PBS Kids, it's time to get ready for a bilingual adventure with 10-year-old twins Maya and Miguel Santos.

That's because the minute Maya says "¡Eso es!" or "That's it!", Miguel and their amigos in the television series "Maya & Miguel" know she has just come up with a great idea. And that means they're in for a new adventure.

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This animated series features characters who speak English and Spanish, eat chilaquiles and taco pizzas and live in a colorful and fun neighborhood.

The twins are more different than alike. Maya is three minutes younger than Miguel and she's smart, creative, ambitious and romantic. Miguel is also smart, but he's modest, patient and cool and he knows when to say, "I know you, Maya. . . ." That means he suspects she has come up with yet another idea.

Their mother, Rosa Santos, is from Mexico and their father, Santiago Santos, is from Puerto Rico -- and they run a pet store together. Everyone is bilingual in the Santos family, including their parrot, Paco, which humorously repeats after everyone (in Spanish if they have spoken in English or in English if they have spoken in Spanish).

Some third-graders at Oyster Elementary, a bilingual school in Washington, watched an episode for KidsPost and couldn't stop laughing. Jhoana Herrera, 7, said her favorite character was the loro (parrot).

"I really liked the bird; he was so funny! The show is very funny and the kids always have ideas about how to clean up their messes," she said.

Hannah Bernhardt, 8, said the show is "a little funny and a little serious. It is good because children who only speak Spanish understand what's happening and those who only speak English can learn a few Spanish words."

"Maya & Miguel" is not the first bilingual show for children, but it is the first of its kind that targets kids ages 6 to 11.

According to the U.S. Census, Hispanic Americans are the largest minority group in the country, with more than 37 million people. Deborah Forte of Scholastic Entertainment, the company that came up with "Maya & Miguel," says the show can help kids understand that the United States is a country of many cultures and languages.

"There are a lot of families who are bilingual," Forte said. "Our children are growing up as part of a diverse America. It's important that they recognize that."

But the show isn't just for bilingual families.

"I think all children can relate to this show. All kids who have siblings are going to relate to Maya and Miguel . . . someone who has a friend can relate, whether they are Latinos or not," Forte said.

-- Luz Lazo


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