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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Bureau of Magical Things is an Australian fantasy series about a teen named Kyra (Kimie Tsukakoshi) who's granted magical powers after a chance encounter with an elf and a fairy transfers them to her. Kyra is a likable role model: She's an adaptable, accomplished student athlete with meaningful relationships with friends and with her widower stepfather. That said, her predicament forces her to keep secrets from them as she treads the line between the human world and protecting the existence of the magical one. Expect lots of silly humor -- a friend believes himself to be Romeo when a memory spell goes awry, a piece of furniture floats through the air by some unseen force, etc. -- and easy laughs in simple plots that even young kids can follow. Later episodes see the introduction of a threat to Kyra and her magical friends, forcing them to work together to stop it.
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What's the story?
In THE BUREAU OF MAGICAL THINGS, an evening jog through the woods proves fateful when Kyra (Kimie Tsukakoshi) sees a mysterious book hovering in the air and reaches out to touch it. Suddenly she's seeing things she couldn't before, including an elf named Imogen (Elizabeth Cullen) and a fairy named Lily (Mia Milnes), who arrive to explain that Kyra is a tri-ling (equal parts elf, fairy, and human) and has magical powers. As she slowly comes into her abilities and learns to live a double life, Kyra joins a class taught by Professor Maxwell (Christopher Sommers) to learn about magic and its complicated relationship to the human world. When an unexpected threat arises and puts the magical community as a whole at risk, Kyra must join her new friends in thwarting it.
Is it any good?
This mild fantasy series is an easy watch for kids who aren't ready for actual scares and suspense yet. The Bureau of Magical Things raises the premise of magical forces beyond human awareness and has fun with the idea that there are beings and happenings that we can't see but that affect us anyway. It's imaginative and humorous with a likable central character in the well-meaning and sweet-natured Kyra, who is influenced in positive ways by her relationships with family and friends.
Some viewers may not love the contrary character of Imogen, whose grumpiness wears on the senses after a while. Presumably to offset her dourness, Lily is a hopeful, glass-is-half-full type who helps Kyra gain confidence in her new identity and with her surprising new powers. But as the stakes get higher for Kyra and her friends in both the magical and the human worlds, their differences matter less than what unites them, and they find inspiration in their shared objective.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the existence of role models in The Bureau of Magical Things. Which characters stand out to you as demonstrating strong character strengths like teamwork? As the series unfolds, does anyone's behavior change your opinion of him/her? Are villains more effective when they start out as sympathetic characters?
Why is it fun to imagine the world differently from how it is in reality? If magic did exist, how would you want it to change daily life for you? How do Kyra's powers complicate her life? On the other hand, how does her magical identity enhance it?
What impression does this series give of teens, and girls in particular? How are the relationships between girls different from those between both genders? Is there any negative behavior like cattiness or bullying on display? Do any of the teens contradict stereotypes of this age group?
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