A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this addition to the Dora collection features a multi-ethnic cast of traditional Christmas characters. Santa speaks some Spanish and has brown skin. Dora and her friends celebrate Nochebuena, or Christmas Eve, with a table of baked goodies and candies. They also exchange gifts, sing, and dance. There's no real religious leaning here, but Christmas is the only holiday mentioned.
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What's the story?
As Nochebuena, or Christmas Eve, descends on Dora and her friends, Santa is checking his list of naughty and nice children. But this Santa does not fool around -- he takes the naughty list very seriously, and will not be giving gifts to friends who do not share their toys or do not listen to directions. Thus unfolds the story of Swiper, who enjoys "swiping" his friend's toys. "I really do like swiping," he says with a toothy grin, and he does not seem to learn even when Dora tries to help. Santa intervenes once more, telling Swiper that he needs to travel through time in order to learn some valuable lessons about sharing. And like Scrooge, Swiper travels through Christmas past, present, and future to see how his poor choices have affected his friends. Will he learn the lesson of sharing and really get into the Christmas spirit?
Is it any good?
A very nice respite from the heavy-handed takes on the Christmas Carol that proliferate at holiday season. Not only are young viewers learning about Christmas rituals celebrated in the Latin world (oh those dulces look delicious!), but there are solid lessons about sharing and being a good friend. How can anyone really resist Swiper, what with his funny smile and his willingness to attend to his character flaws? Some parents might find the "Naughty List" concept a little stringent, but Swiper is motivated to clean up his act in order to get a present.
But as with other Dora productions, there tends to be an emphasis on words that are not really used in proper vocabulary. To "swipe" something is not necessarily to steal a thing, in a true sense. Instead, it's a slang version of a word that has been turned into a verb for the sake of the movie. And as there are educational components to the programming, the educational slant should be consistent throughout, so that parents can trust that their kids are learning something real -- not something made up as a rhyme or a convenience.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the images associated with Christmas. How does Santa look in your mind? Is this Santa different than the Santa you know?
What family traditions do you share during the holidays? Do you eat special foods? Do you sing special songs? Do you give presents? Are these family rituals that have been handed down? What is your favorite holiday ritual and why?
Swiper steals, or "swipes" things from his friends. Why does he feel compelled to do this? Have you ever "swiped" anything? Why is stealing wrong?
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