Kids Entertainment is an American film and television production company specializing in the acquisition, production and licensing of children's entertainment around the world. The company is most well-known for its range of television licenses, which has included the multi-billion dollar Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! media franchises. They also run a program block on Fox stations known as 4Kids TV and aimed at children.
Thanks to Klaus Baumgart, Cornelia Funke and a handful of other writers, kids read German books worldwide. They've achieved what few of their colleagues ever will: broken into the English-language book market.
In Klaus Baumgart's picture book "Laura's Star," the main character Laura learns that friends are always there even when you don't see them. The book has captivated children around the globe and been made into a movie. The book's publisher, Frankfurt's Baumhaus-Verlag, says it has sold 1.5 million copies, more than half a million in Britain and the US alone.
"It's actually rather rare that a German license sells so well in the English language," said Dawn Lacy, who's responsible for the foreign rights to the Baumhaus-Verlag's books.
One of the reasons it's so seldom is that the English-language book market is especially difficult to break into. Since so many authors write in English there's little impetus for British or American publishers to look beyond their own countries.
"Unfortunately it's still the case that most English and American publishers don't have any German-speaking editors," Renate Reichstein of the Oetinger publishing house said. Their approach to the language barrier was: "We can't do it so we don't need it," she added.
But success transcended borders years ago for Cornelia Funke, the author of the "Inkheart" and "Dragon Rider" children's books. Equipped with a translation of one of her manuscripts done by a cousin in England, she managed to get her foot in the door, according to Reichstein. Her books have been bestsellers well beyond the German-language book market.
Hollywood has picked up "Inkheart" and made a film which will be released in 2008.
Though Funke's success in the Anglo-American book market has been one of a few exceptions, it has had positive knock-on effects for writers back home in Germany. Publishers outside of Germany have recognized that German authors also know how to spin gripping tales that don't "wag a pedagogical finger" or come across as "typically German, but who just want to awaken a passion to read," said Eva Kutter of Fischer Schatzinsel publishers.
Around twice as many licenses for German-language children and teen literature were sold to foreign countries in 2006 than in 2001, according to Germany's book trade association. All told, 2,300 foreign licenses were sold for German-language literature for children and teens last year, far more than for adult fiction. The increase, however, also reflected the fact that German publishers have been granting more licenses generally.
And those licenses haven't only gone to English-speaking countries. Asian publishers were especially eager to print German children's and teen literature.
Eastern Europe is also growing in importance, Reichstein said: "This market has been exciting since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the associated revival of regional languages that are now rediscovering their own identity and don't have enough authors. In this transitional phase they buy up a lot and have it translated."
Publishers agree that there's no recipe for success. But one formula has triumphed over and over again: strong characters in stories that are told with affection and can be understood the world over -- like the tale of Laura learning about friendship.
The management of 4Kids Entertainment has stated that they seek to "westernize anime so that children in English-speaking countries will understand it...", judging that such localization is necessary in order for these titles to be marketable. For most titles, the editing 4Kids performs falls into a few broad categories – 4Kids may seek to "Americanize" a program by changing dialog, music, food, or stereotypes which would be unfamiliar, or offensive, to an American audience. They also may remove some materially suggestive objects such as cigarettes or guns, religious symbols, or content deemed too violent or sexually suggestive for children. For example, in Yu-Gi-Oh!, the issue of death is sidestepped in the localized version, with dead characters being sent to the "shadow realm." Other examples include removing many instances of violence from One Piece, and the elimination of several episodes from Pokémon.
4Kids has been accused of possessing what appears to be a lack of interest in being faithful to the original artistic vision of an anime, instead focusing on an anime's commercial value.[attribution needed] In an interview with Al Kahn, CEO of 4Kids, when asked how the company decides what properties or anime to acquire, his reply was, "We look at things such as popularity, but also if it has a merchandising component; can we license it, can we license products for it? Thats really the main issue for us... the playing pattern, if it's popular and how it merchandises. If we can't merchandise it, it really doesn't have a lot of interest for us." Kahn claimed in the same interview that this was necessary, because otherwise adapting an anime would not be commercially viable due to the re-dubbing, re-editing, and re-scoring that 4Kids performs. Critics[attribution needed] argue that this level of insensitivity to the source material has altered some of these titles to the point where they have lost the qualities that originally made them appealing in Japan. 4Kids Entertainment remains largely unmoved by these claims, stating "...if [anime fans] want this programming to come to the United States then they're going to have to accept the fact that it's going to be available in two styles.".
Despite the edits against violence and other inappropriate content, moral conservative groups have criticized the programs released by 4Kids. For example, a March 2006 study  by the Parents Television Council on violence in children's television programs pointed out the 4Kids dub of Shaman King. L. Brent Bozell also pointed out Shaman King in one of his weekly column as an example of children's media with excess "cultural landmines" that are uncalled for.
Psalty the Singing Songbook is the anthropomorphic "big blue book" featured in the children's music Kids' Praise! albums. Psalty was created by Debby Kerner & Ernie Rettino, who also plays the characters of Psalty and Psaltina (and many others) on their album appearances. He and the Kids' Praise! Kids travel around the world, singing and telling children about Jesus. Psalty has a Wife (Psaltina, played by Ernie's wife Debby Kerner Rettino), triplets (Harmony, Melody, and Rhythm), and a dog who always hits the wrong notes (Blooper)! Other characters Psalty runs into are the fame-seeking Charity Churchmouse, the singing firefly Farley McFirefly, and of course the swindling villain, Risky Rat. There are ten Kids' Praise! albums, each one having a different life lesson from God's Word. For more information on the characters that appear in the series check out the wikipedia page "List of characters in the Kids' Praise! series"
One of Psalty's favorite sayings is, "Praise the Lord!" There haven't been too many appearances of Psalty since the early 1990s, but on a 1995 TBN episode of Colby's Clubhouse, Psalty makes a guest appearance in an episode that could be considered a "passing of the torch", since Psalty had been the most visible of the characters.
Kids' Praise!: Play Ball!
It's baseball time, and Psalty is coaching the kids under the team name Psalters. The Psalters have a lot to learn, but Psalty helps them learn the basics of the game. Their first match-up is against a bullying team called the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs easily defeat the Psalters.
The kids are discouraged, but Psalty tries to console the Kids' Praise! Kids up by singing to them how in God's eyes there are no losers, we are all winners in God's Kingdom.
The Psalters go up against the Bulldogs in a rematch. When the coach is absent (due to a failure of the Psalty SuperSonic Scooter) the children once again turn in prayer to the Lord. They manage to win the game, and the Bulldogs agree they should form a partnership to learn from each other's team tactics.
The kids learn about sportsmanship, how to rely on God, and how in God's eyes, there are no losers.
Kids' Praise! : Salvation Celebration
Psalty, Psaltina and Charity Churchmouse are leading the Kids' Praise! Kids on a "Whistle Stop" train tour, on their way to St. Louis. They make stops along the way to sing songs and spread the good news of the Gospel. But not all is well. Risky Rat is on their tail! He tags along on the train disguised as a talent agent and tries to convince one of the kids to chase fame and fortune. Psalty and Charity teach her that God has a plan for her life. The girl eventually makes her decision; to commit her life to Christ. Risky has lost. The train arrives in St. Louis, and the mayor honors Psalty for his work with kids and spreading the Gospel.
While that happens, Risky Rat steals the Kids' Praise! 9 episode and revenge and sneaks off - so 10 must come before 9! Psalty and the kids are distraught, but are reminded that Jesus is Lord of All no matter what.
Kids' Praise! 9: The Search For Psalty's Missing 9
Risky rat has stolen all of Episode 9 "The Secret of How To Grow in the Lord" Kids' Praise! Albums, and it is up to Psalty and the kids chase him to Africa to find it. Along the way, they learn how Christians must bond together, because even the hottest coal, if set apart from the fire, will go out.
The meet the bookables, a rogue tribe of books that eat other books! Psalty manages to talk them out of eating him, and instead, teaches them of Jesus.
They catch up with Risky Rat, but not in time. Risky dumps all of the Kids' Praise! 9 tapes and records into a volcano. Psalty and the kids are devastated. They must come to grips with the fact that God obviously has a purpose in mind.
On their return trip, one of the kids plays his tape recorder back, and Psalty learns the boy was taping their entire trip -- all while they discussed how to grow in the Lord! The tape can take the place of the missing 9! Things turn out okay after all.
Pow Pow Power To Live God's Way
Charity Churchmouse is trying to help the Kids' Praisers earn money for a missionary trip to France, but Risky Rat (disguised as Pierre Rat Le Mal) decides to try and foil their plan.