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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Fishtronaut introduces preschoolers to matters of the environment and nature through the lively adventures of a team of mystery solvers. As they follow clues to answer the day's riddle, they learn about animal habits, classification, and nature's diversity, as well as discovering that learning from their mistakes is as important as getting the right answer on the first try. The stories tread lightly on issues such as extinction (in one episode, a blue macaw mentions that he's one of the last of his kind because of years of humans capturing them in the wild, for instance), so kids might have questions that linger after the story's end. Prereading skills such as color recognition and counting are involved in the show, and the characters must mimic rhythmic patterns to access clues to their tasks.
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What's the story?
FISHTRONAUT is the story of a resourceful goldfish agent for the Secret Environmental Agency, tasked with solving the mysteries that arise in Smiling Trees Park, where the animals talk and mingle with people. Each day Fishtronaut (voiced by Dawn Ford) is given a mystery to solve by the P.O.P., a colorful ball that divulges clues to the task at hand, sending him and his friends, Marina (Angela Gallupo) and Zeek (Terrence Scammell), out into the park to decipher them and solve the mystery. When the team is stumped, Fishtronaut turns to Rosy Barb (Holly Gauthier-Frankel) and Happy Plumb (Scammell again), two fish friends who are a wealth of knowledge and expertise and usually manage to get them back on track.
Is it any good?
There's good reason to like this well-rounded series. Besides the friendly and cooperative rapport that exists among the trio of mystery solvers, the show carefully presents lots of learning potential for kids, all without the feel of educational programming. As Fishtronaut and his friends follow leads, kids learn facts about different animal species and stay on the lookout for clues based on color, size, and other classifying factors that help them learn to differentiate and categorize what they see. Environmental themes such as conservation are more subtle but no less a concentration.
Fishtronaut's other focus is music, evident in the Latin American sound that sets the mood for this Brazilian production as well as in the emphasis on rhythm and patterns. The characters must imitate the P.O.P.'s rhythms by clapping and stomping to hear clues, an exercise that looks so fun kids will want to join in.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the animals Fishtronaut encounters in the park. Do any of them exist in the wild where you live? How is your climate different from what you see in this show?
How effectively do Fishtronaut, Marina, and Zeek work as a team? Who, if anyone, is the group's leader? What makes a good leader?
Families can discuss the environmental issues raised in the show. What does it mean for a species to be endangered? How does one get to that point? What can you do to help conserve resources and protect natural habitats for animals that are endangered?
- Premiere date: May 28, 2015
- Cast: Dawn Ford, Holly Gauthier-Frankel, Terrence Scammell
- Network: Kids Central
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Friendship, Music and Sing-Along, Ocean Creatures, Science and Nature, Wild Animals
- Character Strengths: Curiosity, Teamwork
- TV rating: TV-G
- Available on: Streaming
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