TV review by
Ellen Dendy, Common Sense Media
Wishbone TV Poster Image
Cute canine leaps into classic literary stories.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 8 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Encourages kids to read; promotes all kinds of literature, from African multicultural folktales to works by Faust, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, and others. The kids are well-behaved but not afraid to break the rules if it's for a good cause. Everyone learns an important life lesson at the end of each episode.

Violence & Scariness

Some fighting as depicted in literary classics (swords, arrows, and other weaponry, but no gore).

Sexy Stuff

The show's success led to a book series.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that some kids may be bored by parts of this literature-centric live-action series. Some scenes include mild violence -- punching, swordfights, etc. -- but there's never any bloodshed. Each episode teaches a key life lesson, and the human characters are good role models. The fantasy sequences are engaging, but the simple script makes some of the non-fantasy scenes seem fake. (All the easier for younger kids to follow, but not exactly cutting edge.) That said, this award-winning PBS series encourages kids to read and introduces them to classic books (most of which are more sophisticated fare than what you might find on Reading Rainbow).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byDigiGoggleHeadBoy September 10, 2018
Follow this dog Wishbone as he leaps into real books, showing us that reading is fun and exciting. Who doesn't want to a big reader like Wishbone!

Website... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byWishboneFan2020 April 26, 2020


Kid, 9 years old May 28, 2018
not 5+ 3+

What's the story?

In the award-winning live-action series WISHBONE, curious, witty pup Wishbone (a lively Jack Russell terrier) jumps out of his normal surroundings and into an imaginary world where he experiences life as Robin Hood, D'Artagnan, Ali Baba, and other classic characters from world literature. Wishbone's time-travel adventures are always triggered by something going on in his daily life, as when one of the terrier's human pals enters a science fair, so the pup dreams himself into the laboratory of Mary Shelley's diabolical Dr. Frankenstein. Other times, he might find himself in the company of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, tracking the hound of the Baskervilles, or playing hide and seek with the Phantom of the Opera. Most of Wishbone's adventures are inspired by American and European English literary standards, but some episodes feature African-American, Native American, Chinese, and Mexican tales. No matter where he ends up, Wishbone wears period costumes to match his elaborately staged daydreams (the series won awards for art direction, costumes, and scenery, and it shows).

Is it any good?

Some of the adventure scenes include punching, swordfights, and other types of combat, but the violence is mild compared to other shows, and no blood is ever shed. And Wishbone's junior-high-school owner Joe (Jordan Wall) and his friends are good role models -- they're active and curious, they love to learn, they always try to do the right thing, and they aren't afraid to stand up for their beliefs. Since the terrier's adventures are tied to events in the humans' lives, the whole gang ends up learning an important life lesson by the end of each episode.

Wishbone is a good bet for early elementary-school kids, but tweens who are into edgier shows like SpongeBob may find it dull. Wishbone livens up any scene he's in with his joie de vive gusto, but the human characters' oversimplified dialogue sometimes sounds fake. Because of this, younger kids should be able to follow the story, but older kids may lose interest. A quick wit and free-spirited sense of adventure make it hard to resist Wishbone (plus, he's just so darn cute), and his lively narration invites kids to follow him into the high drama, adventure, and intrigue of great literature. The show is a way to get kids excited about reading, and parents, kids, and teachers can all take it further by organizing creative story-telling events and other fiction-inspired fun.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Wishbone's adventures and the stories presented in each episode, using the show as a jumping-off point to learn more about the authors. For example: How did Mark Twain's personal experiences inspire him to write Tom Sawyer and other stories set on the Mississippi River? The series is a great way to get kids excited about reading, and parents can take it further by planning special trips to the library and creative story-telling circles. Other questions to ask: What do kids enjoy about story time? Does this show make your kids want to read more? Why is reading so important?

TV details

Our editors recommend

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate