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Peter Rabbit's Christmas Tale - Review for Parents

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Peter Rabbit's Christmas Tale
Photo © Viacom
TV Rating: TV-Y
Genre: Childrens/Christmas
Guide age recommendation: 2-8
Network: Nickelodeon

Peter Rabbit's Christmas Tale - Overview

In this new Christmas special from Nickelodeon, Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny take over for Mr. Bouncer when he gets sick and can’t make the important holiday supply delivery. Peter's mother tells him to go straight to the store, make the deliveries and come straight back home, but you know Peter. He can't resist getting into just a little mischief.

Thankfully, Peter and Benjamin come across a new friend, Lily Bobtail, who helps them out of a scrape. Together, Lily, Peter and Benjamin stand up to the sneaky fox Mr. Tod as they work to get the supplies for their animal friends and deliver them before the blizzard gets too bad. Peter Rabbit and his friends model problem solving, resilience, and positive framing as they make their journey and overcome obstacles along the way.

Peter Rabbit's Christmas Tale - Guide Review for Parents

I have a deep appreciation for Beatrix Potter stories and love to share them with my kids. The sophisticated language in the stories expands their vocabulary and helps them understand and form differently structured sentences. The stories themselves are simple and charming. As with any great literary work, there are pros and cons to adding to it and creating new stories for the characters.

While it seems a shame to add to a collection of classic works and use the characters in new ways, it truly is fun to see more adventures from characters we've grown to love. So at the end of the day, everything boils down to whether or not the new works retain the essence of the original and make a worthy contribution.

In the case of Peter Rabbit's Christmas Tale, the endeavor is a success and I am excited to see more from classic characters. What is it that makes the Christmas Tale special? -- the brilliant animation is key. The characters retain the charming look of the original Potter works, and we are transported to a beautiful winter wood inhabited by interesting and delightful animals. One of the new characters, Lily Bobtail, is based on Beatrix Potter.

Our family also adored the soundtrack and the wonderful Christmas carols worked into a light and feathery musical backdrop for the story. The music adds a nostalgic and whimsical air to the show.

The story itself is more along the lines of an extended show episode and lacks the overarching structure and arc of a family Christmas classic, but it does have many elements of a classic and is certainly enough to keep kids entertained and interested, and it's likely one they will want to watch year after year while they are young.

The characters also overcome challenges throughout the story and model positive attitudes in fixing problems. Some of those problems are caused by the characters' own actions, as is the case with real preschoolers. It's good that the characters take responsibility, but parents may want to talk with kids about some of the decisions, like when Peter disobeys his mother, and point out ways Peter could have done the things he wanted to do while still being obedient to his mother's rules.

After viewing the show, my preschooler immediately asked to watch it again. I had her recount the story in her own words, and just for fun, we talked about ways in which she is similar to and different than Peter Rabbit. She has had similar experiences with losing something important the her, being given a special gift, and having adventures in the snow. But, she pointed out, she is not "naughty" like Peter.

In the show, Peter makes some disobedient choices, but I wouldn't characterize him as "naughty." He seems like a pretty good kid. I think my daughter retains that image from reading the book. I highly recommend reading Peter Rabbit and other Beatrix Potter stories with your kids before or after watching the Christmas special and the upcoming series. It's impossible to truly appreciate the show without a proper introduction to the origin, and Beatrix Potter stories introduce kids to a different aspect of language and literature that just can't be captured on TV.

*If your child is taken with the story of Peter Rabbit, also check out Super Why: Peter Rabbit and Other Fairy Tale Adventures
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