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‘Ghostwriter’ wages war against toxic waste and offers pointers for kids

TIMES STAFF WRITER

With Earth Day still resonating, Ghostwriter presents a new four-part mystery, “Over a Barrel,” in which the Ghostwriter team takes action to clean up a toxic-dump site in their community.

When neighborhood folks become ill, Gaby (Mayteana Morales) discovers mysterious barrels of toxic waste. Despite some governmental red tape, the gang is determined to find out who dumped the barrels. They also uncover some underhanded business schemes.

The youngsters employ various methods of action: taking surveys, writing letters, printing protest signs and recording events with a video camera--all things young viewers can do.

Once the Ghostwriter team manages to get media attention, they expose the culprit.

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The show is highlighted by a rap from Lenni (Blaze Berdahl) called “Time for a Change.”

In conjunction with the airing of “Over a Barrel,” the free, monthly Ghostwriter magazine will show kids how to conduct their own environmental surveys and encourage them to send reports of their efforts to President Clinton.

The four-part “Ghostwriter: Over a Barrel” begins Sunday 6-7 p.m. on KCET and concludes next Sunday, May 9, 6-7 p.m. (Two episodes are aired each night.) For ages 7 to 14.

MORE FAMILY SHOWS

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Many mothers dream of their sons or daughters becoming physicians. Mother’s Day Under the Umbrella (Sunday 5:30-6 p.m. Disney) would have you believe that’s what puppet moms want too. After exaggerating in letters to his mother that he’s a doctor, Iggy works at the process. He and his friends turn their apartment into a doctor’s office, where he performs a “special delivery"--assisting an egg-hatching. For ages 2 to 8.

Being bilingual is as prized in Wonderland as it is in Los Angeles and elsewhere. In Adventures in Wonderland’s “Fiesta Time” (Sunday 8:30-9 p.m. Disney), the Red Queen is invited to King Ricardo’s fiesta, but she’s bummed because she can’t speak Spanish! So the Wonderland crew devises a way to teach her. For ages 4 to 12.

In the canon of kid’s “why’s,” the question of why leaves are green is bound to crop up. This week on Beakman’s World (Sunday 8:30-9 p.m. Learning Channel), Beakman describes how chlorophyll works in the process of photosynthesis: changes in leaf color are caused by the loss of chlorophyll. Beakman also addresses paper recycling, explaining that paper is actually made up of cellulose, and describes the amount of wood to produce 250 Sunday papers. For ages 6 and up.

Dr. Seuss couches his moral lessons creatively. In Dr. Seuss’s Pontoffel Pock (Friday 7:30-8 p.m. Disney), Pock is the owner of a magic piano that can take him anywhere his heart desires. But he still feels like a loser. Eventually, he learns to appreciate his own virtues and gain confidence. For ages 2 to 8.

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With the puppetry of experts from the movie “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and ABC’s “Dinosaurs " comes Commander Toad in Space, an “ABC Weekend Special,” (Saturday 11:30 a.m.-noon ABC). Inspired by the storybook series by Jane Yolen, the story follows Commander Toad and his starship crew on a dangerous mission in outer space. Featured will be the starship herself, the SS Stella (the voice of Nichelle Nichols, Uhura on “Star Trek”) and the Admiral (voice of Mark Hamill of “Star Wars”). For ages 8 to 13.


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