A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this engaging, educational animated series exposes kids to the beauty and diversity of the natural world through live-action wildlife movies and descriptions of animal behavior and lifestyle. The clips answer questions that the show's young animal characters pose about themselves and their friends (such as a zebra who wonders why she has stripes). Kids will enjoy the simple animation, African-inspired music, and the chance to get a close-up look at nature.
What's the story?
When it comes to young animals' queries about the world around them, there's no better teacher than their soulful caretaker, Mama Mirabelle (voiced by Vanessa Williams). Using knowledge she's gleaned from her worldly travels and the wildlife films she's made along the way, this maternal elephant is always ready to help her young charges solve the riddles of nature. Set in the African savannah, MAMA MIRABELLE'S HOME MOVIES centers on a handful of youthful animals, including a cheetah named Bo; a zebra named Karla; Mama's calf named Max; and three raucous monkeys, Kip, Flip, and Chip. As with all youngsters, each new day breeds plenty of curiosity among the group, and when questions arise about themselves and those around them (like why they live where they do and why they can't go to the watering hole alone, for example), they turn to Mama Mirabelle for answers.
Is it any good?
Mama's stories always gather a rapt audience of savannah animals, and the listeners are treated to tales of life in the far reaches of the world to which Mama has traveled through the years. She shares with them – and the viewers – her library of wildlife films from across the globe, explaining how animal behavior and lifestyle varies among species and the reasons for the differences. In one segment, for example, Karla becomes frustrated with her appearance when her stripes make it difficult to play hide-and-seek. Using video footage of peacocks and parrots, Mama reminds her that some animals are proud of the features that make them different. She also explains that in some cases – as with the poison dart frog of the rainforest – a vibrant appearance can act as a warning to predators that they wouldn't be a tasty meal.
Mama Mirabelle's Home Movies gives preschoolers a close-up view of the stunning diversity of the natural world, and parents (if not the kids themselves) will find that many of the lessons the series touts (like why it's important to listen to adults and why sleep is important, for example) also relate to the youngsters. The show's gentle stories, sweet characters, simple animation, and African-inspired music make for a pleasant viewing experience for kids and their parents.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the animals in Mama's films. How are the animals similar? Do they look, live, or eat the same way? How does their environment change how they live? How are the animals different? Which ones were your favorites? Why? Parents can also talk to kids about the questions the young animals had about themselves. What did the animals learn today? Did Mama's answers make sense? Do you have any questions about yourself? How could you find the answers?
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