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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
What's the story?
STUART LITTLE, in its animated series incarnation, is a sweet cartoon with some fairly standard elements (the sarcastic, wise-cracking cat; the baby sister whose cat-chasing antics go unnoticed by the parents; talking animals). Although having a talking mouse as part of the family isn't as unusual in cartoon-land as it was in the book or live-action movie, Stuart Little is still cute and utterly harmless. George (the human brother) and Stuart get along, are unfailingly cooperative, never whine, and are guilty of only the mildest parental disobedience. The cartoon version doesn't have the same messages as the movie and book. Those, in their very different ways, emphasize that the definition of "family" isn't necessarily limited to the standard nuclear version and that we should accept those who are different from us, with their different strengths as well as their different weaknesses. In the TV series, Stuart is just accepted as part of the family -- the bigger issues are resolved, and life has gone on.
Is it any good?
Older kids (who might watch with siblings) might have fun talking about some of the things that are never explained. Why aren't all mice like Stuart? Why, if he can talk to the cat, doesn't he ever tell the family what the cat has to say? There's obviously a necessary suspension of disbelief in order to enjoy any incarnation of this story and others like it. This could be a good opportunity to introduce the concept that once you've accepted your unusual family or friend, it's time to get on with life. It's fun to see how Stuart's size and mousiness are accommodated by his friends and family without comment, and it's something to talk about, too -- Stuart wouldn't like it if he were always treated differently.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this mouse is different from all other mice, and how the family adjusts for him -- creating a special car seat and making things accessible -- and then accepts him. Stuart's situation is a pretty good metaphor for a kid with a disability of some kind, because unlike the movie, Stuart's differences aren't the focus of the cartoon. He's a mouse, he's George's brother, and that's all that's usually said about it. Parents can use this matter-of-factness as an opportunity to talk about disabilities in general.
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