Sagwa's Storybook World

Delightful treat based on Amy Tan's kids' book.
  • Review Date: November 19, 2004
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2003
  • Running Time: 60 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Sagwa and her family exemplify good family relations. Acting honorably, looking after the good of the whole and making appropriate choices are the moral pillars behind this series.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is arguably one of the best children's series to appear in a long time. It's colorful, educational, and fun, with a moral message that sticks around after the show ends. This story centers on Sagwa the cat's family, who live in an Imperial Chinese household and are privy to the inner workings of the Magistrate's family life. Though she's aware of the outside world, Sagwa lives comfortably with her siblings, her parents and her beloved grandparents, who provide much of her cultural education through the stories they tell and the rituals they keep. In short, Sagwa's world is a lovely place to visit -- and a very pleasant way to spend time with the entire family.

What's the story?

Based on Amy Tan's children's story, SAGWA'S STORYBOOK WORLD features six episodes of the PBS Kids animated series about the titular kitten, who lives with an Imperial Chinese family in ancient China. Each story celebrates Chinese culture: mythological creatures like dragons are described, as are customs, meals and language. Along with Sagwa, the series features her colorful friends and family. Fu Fu, Sagwa's best friend, is a sweet but clumsy bat who wears glasses and forever bumps into walls. Sagwa's Yeh Yeh (her grandfather) walks deliberately and enjoys spinning a tale for his grandchildren. Sheegwa is Sagwa's baby sister who though innocent, is opinionated and sensitive. Cook is a human who somehow understands the language of cats, dropping bits of shrimp into bowls for them as he prepares the Magistrate's meal.

Is it any good?


The story behind Amy Tan's children's book is an interesting one. According to, Ms. Tan indeed had beloved a cat named Sagwa, who was diagnosed with a severe illness. The news troubled Ms. Tan, who became very worried about the impending loss of her dear feline friend. One night, she had a vivid dream about Sagwa -- not as a cat who lives in a contemporary American city, but as a kitten among cats living in an Imperial Chinese family in ancient China. When she awoke, she jotted down the dream and was moved enough to mention it to her friend, illustrator Gretchen Schields. Thus the story of Sagwa the Chinese Siamese Cat was born -- and the real Sagwa was so happy with the story that she lived to a ripe old age.


Ms. Tan's passion for her subject is evident in the attention paid to detail and the care with which each character is shaped. Obviously, this series is crafted with love and attention to detail by a master storyteller. This DVD is sure to enrich any home viewing library.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the things they learned about ancient China from these six episodes. What customs did you learn about that are still practiced today?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 28, 2003
DVD release date:January 28, 2003
Cast:Holly Gauthier-Frankel, Oliver Grainger, Peter Shinkoda
Director:George Daugherty
Studio:Warner Bros.
Genre:Family and Kids
Run time:60 minutes
MPAA rating:NR
MPAA explanation:not rated

This review of Sagwa's Storybook World was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 2 and 4 year old Written bystodda April 9, 2011
age 2+

Fun for all ages

Our sons like to talk about life in China, life as a cat, and the cultural differences between the Imperial family in China, and our family's lifestyle. Only they didn't use those big words.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 17 years old Written byXemnasSuperior March 10, 2011
age 4+

Loved it!

I would watch this whenever it came on! I miss it now. I should look up episodes on Youtube. Perfect kiddie show.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 2 year old Written bytikimark August 20, 2009
age 3+

Beware the ads!

There were ads for cereals in the middle of this. On a DVD?! Frosted Flakes type things, come on! It might have been great, but I saw that and stopped the DVD immediately.
What other families should know
Too much consumerism


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