HBO Storybook Musicals

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
HBO Storybook Musicals TV Poster Image
Music, animation bring timeless tales to life for littles.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Educational Value

The series features popular children's stories that kids may be familiar with, many of which teach important lessons. It can also serve as an intro to these timeless tales. 

Positive Messages

The stories contain positive messages about many things, including family, friendship, courage, coping with difficult situations, etc. 

Positive Role Models

The characters featured in these stories are positive ones, and when they make mistakes they learn from them. Human characters are Caucasian and heteronormative. 

Violence & Scariness

Peter Rabbit gets yelled at and chased in some harrowing moments, but there's nothing particularly violent. 

Sexy Stuff

Each installment is based on a popular children's book. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that HBO Storybook Musicals is a classic series of animated children’s books that feature singing performances. There’s nothing iffy to worry about here, but some kids may find the series a little slow when compared to more contemporary, action-packed animated shows. Families may want to read the featured books together before watching so kids can follow along while the story unfolds. 

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What's the story?

HBO STORYBOOK MUSICALS is a television presentation of a series of illustrated classic children’s stories that incorporate musical numbers. From Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter The Rabbit to Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, each installment features a popular children’s book that's been animated in a way that stays true to its original illustrations. As the story is narrated, different characters break into song, adding to the storytelling process. 

Is it any good?

This sweet classic collection of animated popular kid’s books from different periods of the 20th century offers lots of storytelling entertainment. The narrations and the visuals of each story stay true to the published book. But the songs, which were written specifically for the televised musicals, add some gentle flair to the overall presentation. 

HBO Storybook Musicals appears a bit antiquated when compared to contemporary kid’s cartoons. Meanwhile, chances are that parents and grandparents will be the ones to recognize the voice talent, which includes Carol BurnettTony Randall, Jason Biggs, and Jonathan Pryce. But young children who love reading, or who are familiar with these stories, will have fun following along. The series is also a great way to introduce these classic stories to new young fans.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how music contributes to TV and movie storytelling. How can a song, or a score, be used to communicate things like people’s emotions, or serve as a way to foreshadow events? Have you ever seen a movie or show where the music or singing isn’t helpful to the story?

  • Does HBO Storybook Musicals, or other TV series and movies based on children’s books, spark an interest in learning to read? Or do you think most folks would rather watch a series or movie than read the books it's adapted from?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love storybook classics

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