the blog of Jason C. Stanley

Category: cartoons (page 1 of 3)

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)

22charlie-brown-thanksgiving22-standard-printYear after year, during the week of Thanksgiving, families gather around the television to watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Since it first aired on November 20, 1973, it has become as much of the holiday tradition as the turkey, the Macy’s Parade, and backyard football.

It is a welcome site when our television screens begin projecting this classic cartoon. We find comfort that Charlie Brown still doesn’t kick that football, and that Snoopy is given more responsibility than the average beagle. Comforting especially when department stores quickly replace Halloween decorations with Christmas ones; when politicians debate who should and should not be welcomed; and when saying, “Thank you,” seems to be nothing more than the reminders of a nagging parent.

In the special, Sally tells Charlie Brown that she went to the store to get a turkey tree and there was all this “Christmas stuff.” Later she laments, “I haven’t even finished eating all my Halloween candy!” (even though she was in the pumpkin patch with Linus on Halloween). We feel Sally’s pain. Before we even get to Thanksgiving, we are bombarded with Christmas music, Christmas sales, and Christmas decorations.

Has the materialism of Christmas caused a forgetting of the tradition of Thanksgiving?

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It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: Discussion Questions

I wrote this for our middle schoolers a few weeks ago to use in their Sunday morning small group. It’s a discussion that focuses on doubt and faith, and that we can trust in God.



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Charlie Brown Valentine: Discussion Questions

I wrote this last year to use with my youth group after watching A Charlie Brown Valentine. It was a great discussion about God’s love in our lives.

charlie brown valentine

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A Garfield Christmas Special (1987)

It starts off like so many other animated specials with a focus on getting, getting, getting. But as the story unfolds and Jon takes Garfield and Odie with him to the farm, we learn that the greedy, fat cat, has a big heart. 

Garfield Christmas

Anyone who grew up in the 1980’s is familiar with Garfield. From the newspaper comic strip to the TV show, Garfield is the talking cat whose mouth never moved who made us laugh. The 1987 Christmas special may not be the classic that A Charlie Brown Christmas is, but it still delivers on the Gospel. Continue reading

VeggieTales: Saint Nicholas (2009)

How often does the true meaning of Christmas get lost in the excitement of the holiday?

Circle of Christmas

In the VeggieTales Christmas tale Saint Nicholas, the Veggies are experiencing this same tension. The kids are concerned about what they will get and how they will spend their money on themselves. The excitement starts to get a little dim when Laura Carrot’s dad is in danger of losing his job because his truck has broken down . . .again. Larry thinks they should write a letter to Santa Claus asking to fix the problem. Bob,  however, knows what will really help the situation. He tells the children (and Larry) the story of boy named Nicholas who made a discovery in Bethlehem that changed him (and us) forever.  Continue reading

VeggieTales in the House

On November 26, Netflix will premiere a new Saturday-morning style series of VeggieTales cartoons. 


In the original cartoons, Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber would introduce the shorts from the kitchen counter. I never thought about it much, but obviously they lived in a kitchen. VeggieTales in the House lets the veggies explore the rest of the house. It provides a chance for some creative animation. While the animation has gotten an upgrade, and the setting is beyond the kitchen counter, the new show will continue the tradition of storytelling through music and silliness spiritual truths and themes.  Continue reading

VeggieTales’ Holiday Hot Line

Just in time for Thanksgiving, the gang from VeggieTales is here to share jokes, scripture, and cooking tips.

The creators of VeggieTales are gearing up for the release of the brand new VeggieTales in the House, which is premiering November 26 only on Netflix. Thanks to a brand-new, toll-free Holiday Hotline, the VeggieTales can be in your house sharing jokes, singing songs, sharing scripture, and even providing recipe tips anywhere you are.

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VeggieTales: Beauty and the Beet (2014)

Beauty-and-the-beet-cover-art“There are some who are hard to love.”

The family musical group The VeggieTones are starting to make it big when they get the invitation to play at Vegtable Square Garden. On the way, the family is forced to pull over due to a fierce snowstorm. They seek shelter at the inn owned by Mr. Beet. However, they have no money. They have to do chores around the hotel, including being the entertainment each evening.

This VeggieTales story is based on the classic Beauty and the Beast story.  Here, the Beet, much like the Beast, has walled himself off from other people – uh, veggies. His staff is timid around him, careful not to anger him. His inn has received poor reviews (only one star) because of his lack of hospitality.

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Interview: Veggie Tales’ Mike Nawrocki

Telling the story of God’s unconditional love

Next week a brand new VeggieTales DVD will be released, “Beauty and the Beet.” In this new show, a Veggie twist of the classic story Beauty and the Beast, Mirabelle (voiced by country music’ Kellie Pickler) and her family band, the Veggie Tones, are on their way to life-changing, career-promoting gig at Vegetable Square Garden. In the midst of a snowstorm, their car breaks down, and they find themselves singing for their supper for the cranky hotel manager Mr. Beet.

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It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown (1974)

peanuts_easterbeagle6The 12th animated television special, It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown, first aired on April 9, 1974 on CBS.  In this special, Charlie Brown and the gang are preparing for Easter. Peppermint Patty is teaching Marcie how to dye Easter Eggs. Poor Marcie can’t figure how to prepare the eggs to be dyed though. Sally wants new shoes for Easter Sunday. Lucy is preoccupied with getting gifts and hiding eggs.

And, then there is Linus. Linus tells them they are worried too much. None of that stuff matters, because the Easter Beagle is going to bring them Easter eggs. The Easter Beagle is right up there with the Great Pumpkin. The other children try their best to ignore or tolerant Linus’ belief in the Easter Beagle.

Like the Christmas special before it, the Easter special has a message against commercialism. As the children walk into the department store to get their Easter supplies, the store is decorated with Christmas trees and other Christmas items. Banners hang declaring how many days are left before Christmas. Sally cries out, “It’s Easter! And they have Christmas decorations out!?!”

The point is clear. Like Christmas, Easter is not about buying, buying, buying. Easter is about so much more than that. It is about the One who gave life so that we may have new life.

There has been some criticism that this special did have the religious message like its Christmas counter part. If by religious message they are referring to Linus reading from the Bible, than no, there is none of that in this one.

But there are allusions to the Gospel.

In the opening scene as Lucy listens to Schroeder play his toy piano, she talks about Easter being a time of getting gifts. Schroeder corrects her, “It’s a time of renewal,” and later, “All you think about is gimme, gimme, gimme, get, get, get.”

When the kids get to Easter Sunday, they are all sitting around waiting for something special to happen. Peppermint Patty says to Marcie, “You look forward to feeling real happy and something happens to spoil it.” Can you think of better words to describe what those who witnessed the crucifixion must have felt?

Sally is wondering where the Easter Beagle (Christ?) is. Charlie Brown expresses feelings of being alone. Sally tells Linus that he has made a fool out of her. Everyone seems to be sad or confused. Not unlike those who experienced the first Easter morning. But then in the distance a figure emerges. It is the Easter Beagle (of course, it is just Snoopy.) Snoopy dances around giving out Easter eggs that he picked up after Lucy hid them (Lucy: “He gave me my own egg!”).

Ten weeks later, the Easter experience is still hanging around. Lucy is still upset at Snoopy for pretending to be the Easter Beagle and for handing out the eggs that she hid. She goes to Snoopy with the intent of fighting him. Snoopy leans in and kisses her. She responses, “Awww, the Easter Beagle.” Even Lucy came around.

Easter BeagleThere may not have been any quoting of scripture, but there are things held in common between the first Easter and this Charlie Brown Easter. The feelings of loneliness, of being scared, confused, and uncertain all must have been feelings that the disciples and others experienced. The surprise and awe that followed when Jesus appeared. There were those like Lucy who did not believe until they experienced the grace-filled love of Christ themselves.

Lent reminds us of the tension between looking forward to being happy and the reality of loneliness and despair. The promise of Easter is the gift of resurrection; new life; renewal. In the midst of the darkness of loneliness and despair, joy comes in the morning.

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