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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Sagwa the Chinese Siamese Cat not only introduces a taste of Chinese language and culture, but it also often centers around Chinese moral lessons, such as respecting elders, making appropriate choices, acting honorably, and looking after the good of the whole. This series can be appreciated by all audiences.
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What's the story?
Based on a book by Amy Tan, SAGWA THE CHINESE SIAMESE CAT is set in an Imperial estate, where Sagwa (voiced by Holly Gauthier-Frankel) is the middle child in a family of cats. She plays with her siblings and sometimes verbally jousts with them, but she always takes care of her conflicts in a responsible way. Sagwa's grandparents are held in the highest esteem and treasured as role models -- Sagwa's family embraces individuality while encouraging family harmony. This series presents a thorough introduction to another culture: Chinese characters are shown, Mandarin Chinese is sung and spoken, mythological animals such as dragons are referred to, and the food, dress and customs are Chinese. Sagwa's best friend, Fu Fu (Rick Jones), is a bat whose name in Chinese means "lucky bat," and her grandfather (Neil Shee) is called "Yeh Yeh," which is an affectionate term for grandfather.
Is it any good?
This program seeks to culturally enrich its viewers and its beautiful visuals are a calming treat for the sensitive viewer. Sagwa the Chinese Siamese Cat doesn't attempt to appropriate another culture -- it actually immerses itself in its own, down to the tiniest details. The brief interlude between episodes -- called "What about you?" -- features real children discussing their interests and ideas. Such fortitude makes this program much more than yet another kids show -- it's one worth exploring with your kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Chinese cultural lessons in Sagwa the Chinese Siamese Cat. How are the clothes and customs the same or different form your own?
How does Sagwa show what it means to act honorably? Why respecting your elders is important?
How come family is important everywhere, in every country throughout history? How does the family in the show demonstrate this?
- Premiere date: September 3, 2001
- Cast: Holly Gauthier-Frankel, Oliver Grainger, Rick Jones
- Network: PBS
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Book Characters, Cats, Dogs, and Mice
- Character strengths: Curiosity, Empathy
- TV rating: TV-Y
- Available on: DVD
- Award: Common Sense Media Award
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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