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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Thomas & Friends: The Adventure Begins is the origination story of the Sodor gang as interpreted from the first two books in the Rail Way Series. It originally aired as a TV movie on PBS. The show opens with the arrival of a plucky young engine named Thomas, who's exceedingly eager to be the island's most useful new engine, but things don't proceed quite as he plans. Happily, though, he's just as motivated to learn from his many mistakes and to prove himself a helpful part of the railway team, so no misstep goes without a valuable lesson of some kind. Expect infighting among some of the engines as personalities clash and a few fretful moments, but ultimately there are happy resolutions and increasingly strong friendships as a result.
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What's the story?
THOMAS & FRIENDS: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS starts with the North Western Railway, which operates a train yard on the Island of Sodor, hauling goods and transporting passengers to and from locations across the island. Things are so busy that Sir Topham Hatt (voiced by Keith Wickham) acquires a new engine named Thomas (Joseph May) to help out, and he eagerly jumps into the fray. Gordon (Wickham again), the largest engine in the fleet, is happy to have the help but feels that the young prodigy has a lot to learn, but kindly Edward (William Hope) takes the newcomer under his wing and tries to show him the ropes. As the adventures begin, Thomas discovers that there's more to being a really useful engine than he ever imagined.
Is it any good?
This TV movie taps the first two books in the Railway Series to inspire a retrospective look at the beloved blue tank engine's origination story. Every Thomas fan will want to see how the Sodor gang first got together, and it's comforting that all the features of other Thomas stories are prominent here in Thomas & Friends: The Adventure Begins, from the mostly good-natured squabbling to the eventual resolution of the characters' differences.
Besides the colorful characters and exceptional storytelling, what makes Thomas stories so appealing to kids is that they can relate to the social dynamic that exists among the railway friends. Just as in real life, these coworkers don't always see eye to eye, and their very different personalities often complicate their working relationships. It's a big dose of reality in a world where trains talk to each other and to the people they help, and it leaves kids with a positive impression of conflict resolution, cooperation, perseverance, and friendship.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the lessons Thomas learns about cooperation when he arrives in Sodor in Thomas & Friends: The Adventure Begins. Why is it difficult to work with people who are different from us? Why is it important to communicate effectively in situations like that?
Which of Thomas' railway friends make good mentors for him? Why is it good to have role models to look up to? Can you learn just as much from a negative role model as you can from a positive one?
In what ways do the characters show each other (and viewers) that they're good friends? Can friends disagree from time to time and still be close? Which traits are important to your kids in a good friend?
- In theaters: March 3, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: February 14, 2017
- Cast: Keith Wickham, William Hope, Joseph May
- Director: Don Spencer
- Studios: HIT Entertainment, Universal Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Book Characters, Friendship, Trains
- Character strengths: Compassion, Perseverance
- Run time: 45 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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