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TV REVIEWS : A Comfy, Cozy ‘Storytime’

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Fred Savage does it naturally, John Ritter does it with humor and Madge Sinclair does it with flair. KCET-TV Channel 28’s celebrity-driven “Storytime,” beginning Sunday at 7 p.m., hopes to encourage everyone to do it--read, that is.

Like “Ghostwriter,” the Children’s Television Workshop’s new PBS series, “Storytime” aims to involve children in the written word. But while “Ghostwriter” inspires older children to read for themselves, the cozily formatted “Storytime” is targeted at younger children and has a dual purpose: to kindle a child’s interest in books with familial read-aloud sessions and to show parents how to make reading to children a mutually rewarding experience.

To accomplish that, the “Storytime” creators have come up with a winning blend of subtle simplicity and relaxed appeal.

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After an introductory chat between host Marabina Jaimes and her friend Kino--an orange, little boy puppet in a baseball cap--the celebrity reader, sometimes accompanied by his or her child, reads stories to a group of Kino’s human friends.

During the rest of the half-hour, “reading buddies"--teachers, storytellers, authors and others--contribute. The readings are spiced up with sound effects and mood music.

In the opening segment, “Wonder Years’ ” Fred Savage draws his studio audience into Anthony Browne’s “Willy the Wimp” and Jan Brett’s “The Mitten” with easy warmth. Author Leah Komaiko then reads “Earl’s Too Cool for Me” and “Annie Bananie.”


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