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Q & A with Joan Cusack
Joan Cusack

What's your role on PEEP and the Big Wide World?

I'm the narrator, so I'm basically a storyteller, talking about Peep's adventures with his friends. Guess I have my kids to thank for preparing me for this one...six years of reading bedtime stories!

This isn't the first time you've lent your voice to an animated story. In fact, you were the voice of Jessie in Toy Story 2. What made you decide to take on the role of the narrator?

When I read the scripts I was excited because I could really picture my kids (Dylan is six, Miles is three) watching the show and learning from it. The characters are great—they have this innocent curiosity that makes them so endearing—and they make you laugh, too. Plus, my kids thought I was the coolest the last time I voiced an animated character.

What do you think the show has to offer to young viewers? What makes the show unique?

I think young viewers will be able to identify with the series because Peep and his friends look at the world just like they do. It asks the kinds of questions kids would ask and helps them find the answers. I love watching my kids as they discover things...it gives me such a charge as a parent.

Do you think exposing preschoolers to science concepts is important?

Oh, definitely. Over the years we've heard a lot about literacy and how important it is for children to focus on their reading skills, but we're just starting to hear about the importance of early science education. The show nurtures children's innate curiosity and helps them develop important skills for lifelong learning.

Did you like science as a kid?

I liked it, but it wasn't exactly my "thing." I majored in English in college. But I think I definitely had the habits of a scientist in the way that I was always questioning and trying to figure things out. I became more interested in it as I got older.

There's been a lot of talk lately about how much television kids should be able to watch. How involved are you with what your children watch on TV?

I usually try to watch TV with my kids so we can talk about what's going on. At the very least, I try to make sure they are watching shows I've watched before and that I think are appropriate. Programs like PEEP and the Big Wide World are great, because you know you can trust that your kids are watching something that's going to benefit them. Also, the show gives suggestions for science-related activities that you can do at home, when the TV is turned off.

What did you enjoy most about working on this project?

I had a blast narrating each episode, but most of all I enjoyed working on a project that I believe is going to make a difference in kids' lives.

Who's your favorite character from the series?

Gosh, each of them is great in his or her own way, but I'm a bit partial to Quack—right or wrong he always has a strong opinion, but underneath his bluster he has a very big heart.