Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Humble Message from a Blockbuster Movie: "Have Courage and Be Kind"

I think that she [Cinderella] learns to turn the other cheek with strength. She has no sense of self-pity, no sense of being a victim. She makes her own choices, she doesn’t indulge in her own pain or hardships. She looks at the world with compassion. I find her such good company because she’s so un-showy, and yet she’s so charismatic. I think she really knows herself.
-Kenneth Branagh, director of Cinderella

A young and beautiful Lily James portrays Ella.

A couple of nights ago, my daughter, Mary, and I went to see Disney's new live-action Cinderella film, directed by Kenneth Branagh (it was my second time seeing the movie, Mary's first.)

BRAVO, Mr. Branagh (Sir)!!!!

The humble message of this fairytale - to "have courage and be kind" - danced right off the screen like a shining beacon of light.  It's a message that will never grow old, and that all young people - boys and girls - in our modern times can certainly benefit from!

Dancing with the Prince (Richard Madden)

If you haven't been exposed to the fairytale of Cinderella beyond Disney's 1950 animated version, go here to read my daughter's past post (she has some experience with Cinderella - she loved many picture book versions of the story as a child and portrayed Cinderella as a princess at Disneyland Paris for nine months!)

It takes Courage to be Kind...
Cinderella is a different kind of heroine than most kids may be used to. Like many modern-day female characters, she is strong and courageous, but Cinderella's strength of character stems from patience and love. Most of all, she is kind. As my daughter wrote in a past post (here in 2010) about this fairytale character:

"Cinders" is a beautiful and lovely girl, who, even in what should be her moments of greatest despair, never loses hope, respect, patience, or love. Children can relate to and learn so much from this story. While we may not have all grown up with an evil stepmother and mean, tormenting stepsisters, or had only animals for friends, and endured patiently - until one day we stumble upon our fairy godmother who helps us meet our prince and makes all our dreams come true - any person can empathize with this story. In various ways we've been there - we've all lived through a painful situation in life. But who can say that they offered kindness, respect, and love in return for the harsh treatment or hatred that might have been given?

The tale of The Little Glass Slipper has never gone out of style!
Disney's new film was beautifully done, and I am so happy with Branagh's decision to keep it a traditional telling.  The true heart of the tale is there, complete with darkness and light, the sadness balanced with a happy ending.  Regarding the film's on-screen scenes dealing with the death of both of Ella's parents, Branagh said:

The responsibility of introducing loss on that profound level to children made me understand why fairytales perhaps should not be dismissed [as trite]. They become ways in which we manage these very difficult life issues when we’re involved in talking to our children.

Some of my personal favorite things about this movie:
  • Sir Derek Jacobi as the King!
  • Gus-Gus was there, and chubby.
  • Cate Blanchette's green-with-envy gowns, and her porcelain complexion that, at 45, rivaled 25-year old Lily James' glowing face - wow!
  • The on-screen transformations of the pumpkin, mice, lizards, and goose into their respective magical roles involved in Cinderella's conveyance to the ball.  The visual effects were amazing!
  • The lavish sets.
  • All the literary and biblical symbolism (go here for an excellent article).
  • The film score. Make sure you stick around for all the credits - you'll hear songs from the Disney animated film, sung by Lily James and Helena Bonham Carter!

In defense of Cinderella...
As expected, there has been some negative feedback about the movie; but I've been happy to read several positive essays and reviews about this new live-action film. Two I'd like to specifically mention are Cinderella, the Fool For Christ by Gabe Martini, and The Audacity of Cinderella by Rebecca Reynolds.

My daughter's favorite Picture Book versions of Cinderella...
MARCIA BROWN'S sumptuous watercolors illustrate the Charles Perrault fairytale.

RUTH SANDERSON'S retelling (and don't miss her adaptation of The Twelve Dancing Princesses).

K.Y.CRAFT'S illustrations are reminiscent of opulent 17-18th Century France.

SUSAN JEFFERS' adaptation has very natural looking artwork.

WALT DISNEY'S, by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by MARY BLAIR.

THE EGYPTIAN CINDERELLA, by Shirley Climo, illustrated by RUTH HELLER.


  1. It looks so good! I need to take Audrey to see it. Ever since we've had the baby, going out to the movies hasnt been easy (we havent done it, lol!) "Lady Rose" does make a beautiful Cinderella though! I remember when I was a kid I had a VHS tape of the 1960s Cinderella that we'd taped off of the TV that I loved. It was with real people....do you remember that one?

    1. Yes - the musical, right? "In my own little corner, in my own little chair..." Loved it! You HAVE to take Audrey to the new one. (And it's not a musical, but as I said, the music is beautiful). :)

    2. the lesley ann warren musical! it must have been re-released bc it's inexpensive on amazon. i tucked it in my daughter's easter basket this year.