by Michelle Erica Green

This review originally appeared on the now-defunct site FamilyWonder.com, which showcased children's entertainment for parents and caregivers.

Grade: A
Network: Nickelodeon
Best For Ages: 2-5

Animated dog Blue and her human friend Steve solve language-related puzzles and play "Blues Clues," a game about finding clues that when combined form the answer to a question. The show encourages participation and makes kids feel good about themselves because they often can solve the puzzles before Steve. While two-year-olds enjoy the animated characters, preschoolers will learn new words and concepts.

Parental Advisory:
Educational Value: Constant dialogue with viewers introduces new vocabulary words, and simple games teach concepts like take-away. Steve records visual and audio clues in a notebook, encouraging kids remember and think about several clues at once.

Entertainment Value: Episodes have themes rather than stories, such as going shopping or going to the library. Steve's basic vocals encourage kids to sing along. He's also appealingly goofy, remaining blind to clues until children shout them.

Frightening Situations: Occasional discussions of illness and nightmares.

This terrific series for preschoolers helps children discover that paying attention to detail and solving problems can be very rewarding. Viewers get a kick out of Steve, the approachable young host who leads viewers through the show and sings simple, short songs.

Kids like helping Steve find paw prints to solve mysteries such as which book Blue would prefer to read, or what she feels like playing. Children occasionally become competitive to be the first to solve "Blue's Clues," but they have fun and are proud when they realize how much they're learning.

Steve talks to viewers throughout the show, posing questions. Three-year-old viewers take pride in shouting out the answers before Steve. While four- and five-year-olds sometimes get bored with matching colors, sound, and shapes, they stick around for more adventurous segments--Steve learning about weather and going on "safari" to look for animals, and Blue's play dates with friend Magenta.

Although there's no grown-up humor, parents may want to stick around for the activities. Episodes present simple science experiments that can be tried at home; others offer suggestions for field trips; still others demonstrate flash-card games and ways to make grocery shopping interesting for kids.

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