One thing that will inevitably make today’s parents feel old is our kids’ concept of what is a “book.” Is it printed and bound between covers, or digital ink on an e-reader? And if you listen to an audio book, does it count as “reading”? And then there are stories like those in Adventures of Chicken Weebus, Volume 1, by husband-and-wife team Karl Hirsch and Lauren Proctor: family-friendly audio stories that originate in the audio format, rather than being printed books that have been read aloud and recorded.
“Both of us have always loved listening to stories and comedy as opposed to watching,” says Hirsch. “Growing up, I preferred listening to recorded episodes of Spider-Man rather than reading the comics, loved listening to Monty Python records, and obsessively listened to Dr. Demento’s show on weekends.” Proctor felt the same way about audio entertainment, saying that she “loved talk radio, even as a child.”
So when they concocted an original character named Chicken Weebus—”a cute, fuzzy, yellow, silly chicken who has adventures”—and thought of making a children’s book about him and his pals, “we soon learned that a) we can’t draw, at all, and b) our sense of humor wouldn’t come across right in a traditional children’s book.” Since Proctor had some experience with podcasting and Hirsch knew lots of talented voice actors from his work producing English dubs of foreign movies, they put it all together to create a series of original Weebus audio stories.
The first volume of Chicken Weebus stories is available as digital downloads or a CD with a coloring-book booklet. The seven tracks comprise more than an hour of weird, amusing storytelling starring the title character—a young chicken who isn’t quite sure where he fits in—and oddball characters like Officer Longneck (a slow-talking giraffe cop), Poncho and Pepe (a pair of loopily self-involved cats), and Chicken Earwig, the sophisticated city-chicken counterpart to the more countrified Weebus.
Interspersed among the stories, which run about 15 minutes each, are short sketches and fake commercials, each packed with jokes that will appeal to parents and kids.
Hirsch and Proctor hope that children will enjoy listening to Chicken Weebus stories the same way they’d enjoy thumbing through a book, but they recognize that the audio format suggests an ideal listening environment: “The best place, we think, is in the car, especially for trips longer than 30 minutes,” says Hirsch. “We know that parents like listening to our stories as well as children on car trips, and since our stories are all 15-17 minutes long, they can really help pass the time in the car and be fun for everyone.”
To learn more about Chicken Weebus and his cast of pals, visit chickenweebus.com. You’ll be able to see cartoonish renderings of some of the characters, join the Chicken Weebus Fan Club, and sample some of Hirsch and Proctor’s audio stories for free. And stay tuned for Adventures of Chicken Weebus, Volume 2, which they’ll be recording this summer.