Ni Hao, Kai-Lan

Super Special Days

December 1, 2008

Nickelodeon, created by Karen Chau

It's rare to see a children's show with an Asian American protagonist - and aside from the fact that Kai-lan is Chinese American and speaks English and Mandarin, Ni Hao, Kai-lan is just a good kids' show. Kai-lan is totally cute, wears her hair in two buns, and has kung fu sideburns to boot. Her animal friends, a tiger, monkey, koala and rhino, accompany her on her adventures and her Ye Ye (paternal grandfather) is the recurring adult figure. The show, created by Karen Chau for Nickelodeon, is targeted at the preschool crowd and is an introduction to Chinese culture and Mandarin. Kai-lan's theme song, for example, is punctuated by many "ni hao's," a common greeting and a other select phrases. It's not surprising that a major network would pick up a Mandarin show, as it's en vogue for American kids to learn Chinese as a second language. Still, it's refreshing to see a well-made show featuring an Asian American character. The DVD features four episodes, including "Dragonboat Festival" and extras include a music video. A second DVD is slated for release in January 2009. -MC


Momo Chang

Senior Contributing Editor

Momo Chang is the Content Manager at the Center for Asian American Media, and freelances for magazines, online publications, and weeklies. Her writings focus on Asian American communities, communities of color, and youth culture. She is a former staff writer at the Oakland Tribune. Her stories range from uncovering working conditions in nail salons, to stories about “invisible minorities” like Tongan youth and Iu Mien farmers. She has freelances The New York Times, WIRED, and East Bay Express, among other publications.