A kid's-eye view
My four-year-old daughter has decided to dress as Dorothy for Halloween. Does that call a picture to your mind? Perhaps blue gingham, sparkling slippers, and a pup in a basket? Hold on...when she told a preschool classmate about her plan to be Dorothy he said, "Oh, Dorothy from Elmo!" Indeed, Dorothy is the name of Elmo's pet goldfish on "Sesame Street."
In fact, the Oz image happens to be the correct one for my daughter's costume. (The kid is ready to start the preschool chapter of the L. Frank Baum fan club.) But her friend's reaction was a good reminder: when it comes to names, we grownups don't always know as much as we think we do. We're busy avoiding names that remind us of Rocky or "The Flintstones," while our kids' peers are more likely to relate to the "Backyardigans."
For first-time parents especially, the world of kiddie entertainment tends to be the great unknown. Luckily, many of the names are carefully selected to be out of fashion, especially the boys' names--Elmo and Oswald are typical. But below is a starter set of fashionable names that carry strong associations for the 8-and-under crowd. They're not necessarily negative associations, but it never hurts to know what you're getting into.
Angelina: A ballet-dancing mouse in a popular series of books (and now videos).
Ash: Young, world-traveling Pokémon trainer. Along with Ashton Kutcher, he's made the world safe for boys name Ash again.
Aurora: Sleeping Beauty.
Cleo and Theo: The lion librarians who guide their cubs through a world of literature on "Between the Lions."
Dashiell and Violet: Two of the Incredibles kids, Violet being the shrinking type (invisible) and Dash the dash-ing type (fast).
Jasmine: The princess from Disney's Aladdin, enshrined as part of the Disney Princess pantheon.
Kiara: A little lion, daughter of Simba and star of the direct-to-video "Lion King II."
Maisy: A sweet mouse featured in books and a tv series for pre-schoolers. (Not Daisy-Head Mayzie, who scarcely makes a cultural dent.)
Olivia: Ian Falconer's books about a young pig who is creative and appealing, but "very good at wearing people out."
Zoe: A muppet who joined "Sesame Street" in 1993 to help balance out the sex ratio and build on the youth movement of kid-muppets like Elmo.
...and please feel free to add to this roster with comments.