Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Ni hao, Kai-lan

Ni hao, Kai-lan

Spring 2010 Television
Ages: 2 - 5 yrs.
Network: Nickelodeon
Nickelodeon/MTV Networks presents Ni hao, Kai-lan, an animated half-hour program aimed at the toddler/young preschool viewer. "Ni hao" means hello in Chinese (Mandarin), and an exuberant little Chinese-American girl named Kai-lan greets plenty of friends and family in the course of each episode. She and her pals - think talking animals and giggling insects -- embark on little adventures with a heavy nod to Chinese customs and culture. Dialogue is uncomplicated, animation is unfussy, the pace is leisurely, and plots revolve around themes such as how fun it can be to try new foods or visit a favorite relative. There are lots of bouncy musical interludes, and Mandarin phrases punctuate the scripts. In each episode, Kai-lan also addresses viewers directly to specifically teach new Mandarin words.

Programs for very young viewers tend to offer two short stories in each half-hour episode but storylines here on Ni hao, Kai-lan last the entire half-hour. That may challenge short attention spans and it also makes it a little more difficult to spot the educational content amidst the mixed bag of merriment. Ni hao, Kai-lan is well-intentioned, but there's a lot of meandering from scene to scene and lots of opportunity for digression.

The program does offer sweet little stories and energetic musical numbers, and like bread crumbs, Kai-lan drops tidbits of enlightening content here and there - but overall, this program is more entertainment than education. Even so, parents of multicultural households will appreciate the link to Asian customs and characters in Ni hao, Kai-lan, and it's also instructive for any family raising kids to appreciate a variety of cultures and traditions around the world.

Gina Catanzarite   ©2010 Parents' Choice
Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 9 Emmy awards, 26 Emmy nominations, a Matrix award, two Pennsylvania Broadcaster's Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.

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Nickelodeon/MTV Networks

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