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VeggieTales Heralds the "Joy of Giving"
By Hannah Goodwyn
- Mike Nawrocki isn’t a household name, but his alter ego is known in Christian homes across the country. As the voice of Larry the Cucumber and storyteller behind the popular VeggieTales movies, he is fine with being behind the scenes -- just as long as he can help create stories that will share the Gospel with kids.
This Christmas season, the talented team over at VeggieTales has produced St. Nicholas: The Joy of Giving, an uplifting story that will encourage children of all ages to be cheerful givers. It tells the history of St. Nicholas, particularly his personal realization of God’s love and desire for us to be generous to others.
With two kids of his own, Nawrocki knows it is crucial that children are learning good lessons each day. Today, most popular cartoons do not offer any biblical foundation in the messages they portray. That’s where VeggieTales is different.
“We’ve done a couple of Christmas episodes before. We’ve done an Easter episode where we were able to show Jesus in stained glass as a human form. So it’s always been a challenge with how to deal with Jesus in the context of VeggieTales,” says Nawrocki.
And so what I’m so excited about with Saint Nick is we can be so frontal and so clear on the Gospel message, ‘God so loved the world that He sent His only Son,’ and really incorporate that into a VeggieTales story where it’s appropriate and it makes sense, and it’s just so clear.”
In the episode, Bob the Tomato is sharing the story of the real St. Nick, a godly man who discovered the Truth on a trip to Bethlehem, to a group of kids who are missing the point of Christmas.
”Phil Vischer [the voice of Bob the Tomato and co-creator of VeggieTales] initially pitched the idea that, ‘OK, let’s tell the story of the historic Saint Nicholas', and then try to really draw a line between the past and the present in terms of how the figure of Santa Claus [started] and what’s that has to do with Christmas….,” Nawrocki says.
A lot of parents celebrate Christmas with Santa Claus, and a lot of parents don’t. And so we wanted to tell the story in a way that was as historically accurate as we can be with VeggieTales, but wasn’t going to tip the cart on either side.”
Originally, the script included more explanation of the history of the holiday figure that parents and children can now find in the DVD's bonus features.
“We [were] explaining how Saint Nicholas came and then Sinterklaas, which was sort of the Dutch pronunciation of that, and then Washington Irving changing it to Santa Claus; we had all of that in the story,” Nawrocki says. “But it just sort of kind of weighed it down a little bit, so that ended up in the bonus features. But just kind of making that an educational tool to say, ‘OK, this is where this tradition comes from.’”
Nicholas may be the main character, but the birth of Jesus Christ is the focus. At Christmas, we reflect on this great gift, and St. Nicholas: The Joy of Giving is one of the best ways to show a child just that.
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Hannah Goodwyn remembers watching some of the early -- now classic -- VeggieTales episodes with her college friends.
Hannah is CBN.com's Family and Entertainment producer. For more articles and information, visit Hannah's bio page.
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