The Adventures of Napkin Man

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
The Adventures of Napkin Man TV Poster Image
Mixed-media show's cartoon hero helps kids resolve feelings.

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Kids say

age 14+
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Educational Value

This series teaches kids that wide-ranging emotions are a normal part of being human, and that there's always a way to cope with their fears and anxieties.

 

Positive Messages

The series encourages kids to accept and express their emotions, which Napkin Man helps them better understand and resolve through silly stories with important messages. Unstated themes include being yourself, trusting others, accepting differences, and being a good friend. The show features a diverse cast and casts a male figure as the compassionate mentor who helps kids work out their issues.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mr. Anthony is patient and approachable, and his nonjudgmental nature encourages the kids to open up to him about what they're feeling. Similarly Napkin Man's superhero power is his ability to get kids to open up to him about their concerns and help them find ways to cope with their feelings. In broader terms, the show illustrates the importance of talking about your feelings when they interfere with your ability to enjoy social situations.

 

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Adventures of Napkin Man! is a creative mixed-media series with messages about self-awareness and coping with difficult emotions. The show is geared toward preschoolers, but it's a pleasant enough product that even older kids will enjoy it, thanks to its unique blend of live-action and animated components. Each episode shows a kid experiencing a complex feeling, opening up to an adult about it, and calling on the help of Napkin Man, an animated superhero who illustrates through his own story a constructive way to cope. Watching this enjoyable series with your kids is an excellent way to open the lines of communication with them in general and/or address specific emotions they may be experiencing.

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What's the story?

THE ADVENTURES OF NAPKIN MAN! is a Canadian series set in a classroom where preschool students work out emotions with the help of their teacher, Mr. Anthony (Yannick Bisson), and his stories about a superhero named Napkin Man. Each episode opens amid learning or play time in the classroom before focusing on one student who's wrestling with a difficult feeling like fear or embarrassment, which he or she communicates to Mr. Anthony. Together they invite the help of Napkin Man, who leaps off the pages of Mr. Anthony's illustrations along with other characters who present a story with a relatable lesson that the student can apply to his or her own situation.

Is it any good?

This unique mixed-media series does an exceptional job addressing feelings that can cause stress for young kids and encouraging constructive resolution. The show's format is simple and straightforward: Kid experiences emotion, communicates honestly with adult figure, adult figure uses animated characters to spin thematic story, kid uses resulting lesson to take control of stressful situation. By assigning the teaching content to the highly engaging Napkin Man, the show never feels like it's lecturing; instead the kids and their teacher learn its important messages together.

All of the emotions explored in The Adventures of Napkin Man! likely will be familiar to kids, and even if they've not had firsthand experience with all of them, the overarching theme of resolving issues through self-expression can't be overstated for this age group. What's more, the show is written in such a way that it's not an abrasive watch for parents, making it a fantastic tool for opening the lines of communication between you and your kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about emotions that can cause trouble for kids. How does it feel to be angry? Scared? Nervous? How do these feelings interfere with your ability to be part of a group? Why is it important to talk about your emotions instead of bottling them up?

  • Kids: When your parents aren't around, to whom do you turn for advice? Does talking to friends help as much as talking to a grown-up does? Are there constructive ways for you to handle your feelings without enlisting someone else's help?

  • What kinds of activities usually put you in a good mood? How does physical activity, eating right, and getting enough sleep affect your emotional state?

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For kids who love feelings

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