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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Molly of Denali is an animated series that centers on an Alaska Native girl (voiced by Sovereign Bill) who learns about the indigenous experience through travels around the state and encounters with its people. The show's authenticity is the result of a creative team that includes indigenous advisors, voice actors, and production personnel, all of whom contribute to the show's thoughtful representation of Alaska's cultural diversity. Molly is an excellent role model for kids, an enthusiastic explorer and gatherer of knowledge who greatly respects the adults who share wisdom with her. Some matters of Native people's histories may need further explanation (as when an elderly woman tells Molly about having been forced to go to boarding school and forbidden from celebrating her heritage), but the show gives kids wonderful exposure to indigenous people and their experiences.
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What's the story?
In MOLLY OF DENALI, 10-year-old Molly Mabray (voiced by Sovereign Bill) lets her curiosity guide her adventures in and around the small Alaskan town she calls home. As a modern girl with Alaska Native heritage, Molly often finds connections between her interests and the experiences of her ancestors, and along with her best friends, Tooey (Sequoia Janvier) and Trini (Vienna Leacock), she enjoys learning more about the culture of the Athabascans and other indigenous people of neighboring Alaskan regions. With the help of her parents (Ron Harris and Jules Koostachin), who run a local trading post, and the guidance of Grandpa Nat (Lorne Cardinal), Molly sets out to experience everything she can in present-day Alaska and to learn about her predecessors' way of life.
Is it any good?
As the very first kids TV series to cast an Alaska Native lead character, this thoughtful, pleasant show is a welcome anomaly in the genre. Molly is a delightful pick to introduce to young viewers the diversity and culturally rich history of America's 49th state. A "typical" modern tween, she blogs and uses the internet as a research tool, but she's also deeply connected to and respectful of the experiences of her indigenous ancestors through her grandfather and other adults in her community. As she learns about her cultural heritage as it relates to her own interests, Molly teaches kids about Alaska now and in the past, paying special homage to its native people.
Molly of Denali takes great care to ensure its content isn't trite or narrowly focused, and the result is an exceptionally endearing series with quality content throughout. Because Molly's explorations -- and her parents' work as trading post proprietors and local pilot – take her away from her town often, she gets to learn about other indigenous people and heritages directly from them. The show's content is created in partnership with Alaskan Native advisors, lending significant authenticity to the engaging and meaningful stories and Molly's experiences.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what inspires Molly's adventures. What similarities exist between her modern experiences and the way her ancestors lived? Who helps her learn about her cultural heritage? What ties does your family keep to your ancestry?
Which adult role models cultivate Molly's interest in her home and its people? What adults in your life go out of their way to help and nurture you? How can you act as a role model for others in a similar way?
Kids: How do shows like Molly of Denali help encourage tolerance for diversity? Why is it important to understand and respect other people's experiences? How does diversity strengthen our communities?
- Premiere date: July 15, 2019
- Cast: Sovereign Bell, Lorne Cardinal, Sequoia Janvier
- Network: PBS Kids
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Adventures, Great Girl Role Models
- Character strengths: Compassion, Perseverance
- TV rating: NR
- Available on: Streaming
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: May 21, 2020
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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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