Legendary Canadian author Margaret Atwood may be getting a lot of media attention in light of the anticipated release of The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu, based on her book by the same name, but kids—and longtime Atwood fans—are really in for a treat this month. Beloved character Wenda from the Atwood classic short story Wandering Wenda and Widow Wallop’s Wunderground Washery will finally be hitting the small screen this Saturday on CBC Kids!
Wandering Wenda is centered around best buds Wenda, Wu and Wesley Woodchuck as they embark on various adventures. Aimed at early readers, the series features 26 eight-minute episodes, each one concentrating on a different letter of the alphabet. Kids can sound words out and discover new ones, too. And just like the book, the show is full of alliteration. “It allows for a certain amount of nonsense,” says Atwood. “Incorporating a lot of words beginning with that letter in each episode makes kids familiar with the letter itself.”
Just this year, House of Anansi Press republished Wandering Wenda and Widow Wallop’s Wunderground Washery in an edition that features two other of Atwood’s short stories. However, Wenda isn’t her only alliterative tale: there’s also Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut, Rude Ramsey and the Roaring Radishes and Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda.
Atwood first started writing kids’ books in the 1970s when there wasn’t much of a children’s book industry in Canada. “The first one I wrote was called Up in the Tree. I not only wrote it but I illustrated it and lettered it because it was cheaper. It was printed in two colours because that’s all we could afford,” says Atwood.
And now with Wenda on TV, hopefully she’ll garner a whole new generation of little fans. Atwood’s hope is that the show gets young readers excited about reading and writing. She suggests that parents watching the show with their kids can get them to write their own stories using the letter featured in each show.
“I think children learn best when they’re doing something they enjoy,” she says.
CBC Kids will air two back-to-back episodes of Wandering Wenda this Saturday, April 29 at 9:30 am EST. Get your first look at the show right here!