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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ella the Elephant is an animated preschool show based on a book series of the same name. Strong messages of friendship and kindness are central to each story, and the young characters use their imaginations to solve the little troubles they and their neighbors face. Kids will see why it's good to be part of a caring community in which everyone has a different -- but equally valued -- role to play. Newcomers who take a liking to Ella and her friends may want to check out their literary adventures as well, giving parents and tots a great reason to share some reading time together.
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What's the story?
In her quaint hometown of Elephant Island lives kind-hearted ELLA THE ELEPHANT (voiced by Addison Holley). Her larger-than-life nature is matched by her unmistakable red hat, which was a gift from her grandmother. Together with her best friends -- Frankie (Devan Cohen), Tiki (Avery Kadish), and Belinda (Annack Obonsawin) -- Ella's always ready to leap into action when someone needs help, and the fact that her magical red hat can transform into whatever she needs to get the job done really helps out in a pinch.
Is it any good?
This series brings to life the darling characters first introduced in a book series by Carmelo and Steven D'amico. The show's no-frills animation puts the CGI characters against two-dimensional scenery in a way that retains much of the books' original illustrative style. And, just as in the books, each story follows Ella and her friends as they work through a minor trouble of some kind, from helping a friend realize his talent to reconciling a misunderstanding. Along the way, they learn what makes them special, too.
Also prominent in the show are strong examples of how friendship works. Each of the young characters has a unique personality, from bookish and meek to all-out diva, but, despite their differences, they never let them interfere with their affection for each other. What kids will learn from the characters' interactions is that it's OK to be different from your friends so long as you care about your pals enough to find common ground.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the ups and downs of friendship in general and in Ella the Elephant. Kids: Do you ever have disagreements with friends? How do you get past them? How do you feel when a friend helps you with a problem you're having?
Ella and her friends are proud to belong to their community on Elephant Island. Can your kids name some different communities of which they are a part? Who are the leaders in those communities? How does being part of a community give us a sense of purpose and belonging?
Kids: Why is it important to help others in need? In what ways do you and your family do so? What additional needs do you see around you that you might be able to fill?
Parents and kids can enjoy more of Ella's adventures by reading the books about her. Discuss why reading is important even with so many book characters making the jump to the screen. Who are some of your kids' favorite book characters? Why do you enjoy reading time with your kids?
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