For those of you excited about the recent release of Disney/Pixar’s Brave, I wanted to point you in the direction of another CGI red-head that you might want to introduce your children to. The animated Jane and the Dragon follows the adventures of Jane Turnkey and her best friend, who happens to be a 300-year-old dragon.
I really like this cartoon because in addition to having a strong female heroine, it also works to reinforce lessons about things like integrity and courage. I felt comfortable letting my daughter watch it at age three, and at four years old now, I’ll have to see Brave myself before I decide if she’s ready for it or not.
Jane and the Dragon is actually from New Zealand and is based on a series of books by Martin Baynton. The story goes that Jane was training to be a lady-in-waiting, although she really wanted to be a knight. When she ends up saving the prince from a dragon, the king rewards her by allowing her to become a knight apprentice. In this role, she has a number of responsibilities and deals with several recurring characters around the kingdom.
Throughout the series, Jane proves that she’s not perfect by making mistakes, but she works to right her wrongs and learns valuable lessons (along with the children who are watching, hopefully). It has been nominated for several awards, including Best Animated Television Production (Annie Awards 2008), Best Animated Program or Series and Writing in a Children’s or Youth Program or Series (Gemini Awards 2006), and the Children’s and Preschool category of the Writers Guild of Canada in 2007.
There are 23 episodes of Jane and the Dragon out there for you and your little ones to discover. In addition to being carried by some US television stations, DVDs can be purchased, as well as the books on which the series was based.