Making the Grades
In August of 2010, Dora the Explorer turns ten—although the cartoon character herself doesn’t look nearly that old. To celebrate the anniversary of this children’s television show, Nickelodeon has produced a 30-minute special titled, Dora’s Big Birthday Adventure. It is scheduled to début on the network on Sunday August 15, 2010, and is available for purchase on DVD as of August 3, 2010.
Those familiar with the perky Latino adventurer will find this production to be much like an extended version of the popular preschool program. The story begins with Dora (voice of Caitlin Sanchez) intending to return to her friends and family who are preparing a birthday party. However, an unexpected whirlwind blows the girl and her pal Boots back into The Magic Storybook, trapping them in the world of the Wizzles. There, the puffy yellow creatures explain she can only get home if the Wishing Wizzle (voice of Hector Elizondo) is able to find a missing crystal that gives him the power to grant such requests. Coincidentally, Dora has the lost piece. So she and Boots set out on a path to return the magic stone.
As in all other episodes, Dora must use her map to chart this course. And there are obstacles she must overcome, including a sea snake, a dancing forest and a rainbow. Interfering with her progress is a witch called La Bruja (voice of Rosie Perez) and her flying monkeys (voices by John Leguizamo). Yet, along with the tools in her backpack, Dora has been given some advice to help her overcome whatever adversity she may face during this journey. She has been told to, "Recuerda tus amigos" (remember your friends).
This also serves as a handy way for the writers to insert flashbacks from previous shows into the plotline. Fans of the series may enjoy having their memories jogged too by these sequences that highlight Dora’s best problem solving skills from the last decade.
Anyone familiar with The Wizard of Oz is sure to notice some similarities between the classic movie and this script (although the 1939 MGM production is certainly the more frightening of the two). With her usual finesse Dora conquers all challenges, while teaching Spanish, modeling love and loyalty, and offering an entertaining educational experience.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Dora’s Big Birthday Adventure.
Why do you think the creators of Dora The Explorer decided to make the lead character Latino? What things is she able to teach because of her cultural background?
Dora is told to remember her friends each time she faces a new challenge. How do past experiences help Dora solve present problems? What people can you turn to when you need assistance? What kinds of things does Dora learn by reviewing the past?