Watch Kids’ Cartoons From Around the World
Because not everyone living and growing up in Canada is exactly the same, cartoons shouldn’t all be exactly the same either. This, in essence, is the idea behind the Talespinners Collection, a series of short NFB animation from the early 2000s.
Created for children aged 5 to 9, the Talespinners cartoons use vibrant animation to bring popular stories from a wide range of cultural communities to the screen. Usually 7 or 8 minutes in length, these animation films tackle a vast array of topics – from asthma to immigration and literacy to cultural traditions – in fun, colourful ways.
Gather the little ones and watch them all below:
- Who: Young, asthmatic Winston
- What: He can’t play with the other kids because of his crazy asthma, but one rainy afternoon, his vivid imagination and artistic skills come in very handy.
- Worthy of mention: Winston’s fabulous bowl haircut, which undulates every time the boy coughs.
- Who: Jaime Lo, a shy Chinese-Canadian girl who likes to draw
- What: Her great creativity helps Jaime Lo cope with the absence of her father, sent to work abroad for a year.
- Worthy of mention: The hip soundtrack, replete with scratched vinyl samples.
- Who: Maylin, a girl who toils thanklessly day after day at her father’s Chinatown restaurant.
- What: When a VIP from China tastes one of her dishes, Maylin finally gets the recognition she deserves.
- Worthy of mention: Beautiful watercolour animation.
- Who: A young Chinese girl and her father
- What: A Chinese violin keeps a family’s hope alive when they first land in Vancouver and struggle to adapt to their new life.
- Worthy of mention: An honest depiction of the immigration experience, which isn’t always rosy.
- Who: Gita, an 8-year-old girl from Delhi
- What: An ice-storm ruins Gita’s first Divali party in Canada… or will it?
- Worthy of mention: Great tabla and sitar soundtrack.
- Who: Meena, a young girl who hates books
- What: When Max the cat accidentally knocks down a huge pile of books, Meena is forced to find out what really happens between the covers.
- Worthy of mention: Amazing, funny drawings. Bonus points for the 3 blind mice wearing shades.
- Who: Tina and Dalby, a brother and sister living on an island in the blue Caribbean sea
- What: Returning from market, Tina and Dalby stray from home and end up trapped in the house of a little-boy-eating witch.
- Worthy of mention: Delicious accents.
- Who: Anansi, the little spider
- What: Anansi, tired of being snubbed by all the other jungle animals, devises a plan to gain their respect.
- Worthy of mention: Slick animation, especially the characters of Mr. Tiger and Mr. Snake, the “grumpiest creature in the jungle.”
- Who: Christopher, a little boy who doesn’t want to be called Christopher anymore
- What: When Christopher starts changing his name for “better” ones, he stumbles into all sorts of problems he hadn’t seen coming.
- Worthy of mention: Important topic. As someone who grew up with the name Carolyne in the 1980s, I totally relate.
- Who: Christopher, a little boy who is terribly messy
- What: Christopher alters his views on cleanliness when his fish in their scummy fishbowl enlist the help of a cockroach to teach him a lesson.
- Worthy of mention: Cartoon cockroaches. Always fun.
- Who: Oma and her granddaughter Emily
- What: Emily, sensing that her grandmother Oma is sad to leave her home to move into a senior’s residence, comes up with an idea to make the transition smoother.
- Worthy of mention: Quilts!
- Who: A little girl who misses her baba, or grandmother
- What: Back home after a visit with her baba in Bulgaria, a little girl hatches a plan to bring her to Montreal.
- Worthy of mention: Visually compelling mixed-media animation by the great Theodore Ushev.
- Who: Maq, a young Mi’gmaq boy
- What: Journeying through the woods, Maq meets Mi’gmwesu, a curious traveller who reminds him of what truly matters.
- Worthy of mention: Beautifully stylized animation by Mi’gmaq artist Phyllis Grant.
Have a favourite? Recognized yourself in one of the films? Let us know in the comments. And if you find out you (or more likely, the kids) just can’t live without these cartoons, you can find them all together on DVD.