Note: This is an updated post. The original was first published in April 2017.
Do you ever wonder what to do on long trips? I usually listen to podcasts, but haven’t found a good one I can listen to with my nine-year old. Until now.
The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel is a binge-worthy fiction podcast for kids between eight to twelve—and beyond. If you’re nostalgic for The Goonies and loved Stranger Things, Mars Patel is the podcast for you. And the kids, of course.
Twelve-year old Mars Patel’s friends are disappearing from H. G. Wells Middle School. First, it was his crush Aurora. Next, it was his friend Jonas. They disappeared without a trace, but the grown-ups aren’t making big deal of it. Apparently, they’ve “gone to a better place,” and it seems to have something to do with billionaire Oliver Pruitt and his special school for gifted kids. Mars and his friends embark on an ill-advised adventure to figure out what’s going on.
You can listen to a short trailer on the Mars Patel home page.
Even as a professionally-produced podcast, I’m impressed with the diverse team of child actors who bring the characters to life. As you may have guessed from the name, Mars Patel is an Indian-American boy, and the show-runners have casted Indian American actor Jay Chetram for the title role. The dialog is breezy and witty, charming without sounding fake or too smart for its own good. I also love how this podcast captures the exclusive world of kids. Do you remember feeling like there is a divide between you and the world of grown ups? Mars Patel will take you right back to those years.
Mars Patel also features an interactive element. In between each episode after the third one, Oliver Pruitt answers questions from listeners. You can even take an entrance exam to Pruitt Prep, the most advanced school on earth, by going to their home page: http://pruittprep.com You can send your question to Oliver Pruitt here too.
Download and give it a listen on a long road trip. Season one ends on a satisfying note as well as on a major cliffhanger. Good thing there are two more seasons to binge-listen! There’s only one hitch– when season 3 launched in February of this year, the creators pulled seasons 2 & 3 to make it exclusive content for pinna.fm (Pinna is a currently the only screen-free, ad-free audio streaming service custom-made for kids 3-12.) So to listen to season 2 & 3, click here pinna.fm