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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Yakari centers on the adventures of a young Sioux Native American with a unique gift of talking to animals. Its tasteful presentation focuses on the culture's sense of community, peace, respect for nature, and spirituality -- embodied in his spirit guide, an eagle, which is always a guiding force in Yakari's actions. Each story teaches a lesson through Yakari's experiences, and kids see how qualities such as patience, kindness, and determination pay dividends in the end. This simplistic series is a great choice for kids and parents to enjoy together, as it may encourage further curiosity about Native American history and culture.
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What's the story?
YAKARI is an animated adaptation of a comic book series of the same name. It's the story of Yakari, a spunky young Sioux boy who's graced with the ability to talk to animals, thanks to his spirit guide, Great Eagle. His adventures take him all over his home in the Great Plains, where he befriends a menagerie of wild animals. Along the way, he's joined by his pony, Little Thunder (voiced by Benjamin Nathan-Serio), and his best human friend, Rainbow.
Is it any good?
Yakari is a great example of the beauty of simplicity in kids' entertainment. There's nothing fancy about this series, from the traditional animation style to the uncomplicated stories themselves, so it's easy for even young kids to follow along. Yakari's ability to talk to animals adds a fun element that kids will really like, and parents will like that those characters join the human adults in being positive influences on the spirited but well-meaning boy.
Because Yakari keeps the story simple, focusing only on the peaceful Sioux tribe and not incorporating white characters (and thus historical conflicts) of any sort, it's a straightforward introduction to the sights and sounds of Native American culture with emphasis on community and deference to nature. Depending on your kids' readiness, you can take the subject further with your own explorations of related topics that interest them.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Yakari's adventures. How does he overcome the challenges each day brings? In what ways does he show his respect for all the living creatures he meets? What did he learn from today's adventures?
Kids: In what ways is Yakari's lifestyle very different from yours? Does he play? What does he use as toys? What do his chores consist of? What aspects of his community and family life are similar to yours?
Families can expand on what this series tries to say about the Native American culture. Read books or visit museums to learn more about the tribes that are indigenous to areas around your home. What were their daily lives like? How did they dress? What did they eat? What special skills facilitated their survival?
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