I recently watched “Hugo” with my 5-year-old and got to thinking about what other movies and books we have enjoyed together. Here’s a short list of family-friendly movies that kids and adults will both enjoy, and the books and other items in the collection related to them.
Hugo Cabret is an orphan boy living a secret life in the walls of a Paris train station. When Hugo encounters a broken machine, an eccentric girl, and the cold, reserved man who runs the toy shop, he is caught up in a magical, mysterious adventure that could put all of his secrets in jeopardy.
Ben Kingsley is amazing (Isn’t he always?) as the toy shop owner, Sacha Baron Cohen shines as the station agent tasked with catching orphans at the station, Asa Butterfield plays the lonely and mechanically-inclined Hugo, Chloe Grace Moretz plays Hugo’s only friend, and Emily Mortimer and Jude Law also appear in the film.
I watched this film with my 5-year-old, and even at more than two hours, it held her attention, and mine. This movie has a wonderful magical quality, yet the story is based in reality. This movie would appeal to children, teens, and adults, especially anyone who loves old silent movies.
The film would be enjoyed by all ages, and the book by Brian Selznick is recommended for readers ages 9 and up.
Mr. and Mrs. Fox live a happy home life underground with their eccentric son, Ash. Mr. Fox used to steal livestock for a living, but promised his wife he would find a new line of work. He has been working as a journalist for some time when, against the advice of Badger, his attorney, he moves his family into a larger and finer home inside a tree on a hill. The treehouse has an excellent view of the nearby farms of Boggis, Bunce and Bean, the meanest farmers anyone has ever known. Mr. Fox decides to raid the farms, so the farmers try to dig the Fox family out. So Mr. Fox organizes a tunneling project to burrow under all three farms and steal all the chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys.
This animated film is really a star-studded one, featuring the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, and others.
Anderson’s direction is spot-on, and the humor really shines through in the actor’s delivery of the lines. Of course, music plays a role in storytelling, with perfect song selection, just like in all of Anderson’s films.
This is definitely a film children and adults can enjoy together. It’s the perfect pairing of a tale from a master storyteller, transformed for the screen by an equally talented director.
The movie: “March of the Penguins” (a non-fiction, live action film by Luc Jacquet; 1 hr. 20 min.)
Companion book: “March of the Penguins” (A National Geographic book)
Also available: Seymour Simon’s “Penguins” (A Smithsonian book, ages 5-9, 31 pages)
In the Antarctic, every March since the beginning of time, the quest begins to find the perfect mate and start a family. This courtship begins with a long journey – a journey that takes emperor penguins hundreds of miles across the continent by foot, one-by-one in a single file. They endure freezing temperatures, in brittle, icy winds and through deep, treacherous waters. They risk starvation and attacks by dangerous predators, under the harshest conditions on earth, all to find true love, and bring new life to Antarctica by starting a family.
This amazing film, narrated by Morgan Freeman, offers an honest yet picturesque telling of the emperor penguin’s story. Accompanied by other books about penguins, you can watch the movie, read the books, and enjoy learning about penguins with your young child.
The movie: “Peter Pan” (the 2004 live-action version directed by P.J. Hogan, 1 hr. 54 min.)
Based on the book by Sir J.M. Barrie: “Peter Pan” (Classic Illustrated Edition, 170 pages)
Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s “Peter and the Sword of Mercy” (ages 10 and up, 515 pages)
Walt Disney’s animated sequel “Return to Neverland” (DVD, 1 hr. 13 min.)
Cathy Rigby in the Broadway musical “Peter Pan” (live-action DVD, 1 hr. 44 min.)
Disclaimer: This 2004-version of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale is one of my 5-year-old’s favorite movies of all time. And, I really like it too. I’m not at all irritated when she wants to watch it for what seems like the millionth time. And, we’ve read quite a few Peter Pan books as a result. If you’re looking for something other than the Disney version of Peter Pan, P.J. Hogan’s film could be for you.
Wendy Darling is the ultimate storyteller, mesmerizing her brothers every night with bedtime tales of swordplay, swashbuckling, princesses, and of course, the fearsome Captain Hook. The children become the real heroes of an even greater story when Peter Pan flies into their nursery one night and takes them on a journey over moonlit rooftops to the lush jungles of Neverland. Wendy and her brothers join Peter and the Lost Boys in an exhilarating life, free of grown-up rules, eventually facing the inevitable showdown with Captain Hook and his bloodthirsty pirates.
Special effects are well-executed and the film is solidly-acted by a cast that includes Jason Isaacs, Jeremy Sumpter, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Oliva Williams, Ludivine Sagnier, Richard Briers, Lynn Redgrave and Geoffrey Palmer.
The Library also has a variety of other Peter Pan-inspired items in the collection including the Peter and the Starcatchers series for ages 10 and up, and movie versions of Peter Pan from Disney to Broadway musicals.
Explore the fiction movie collection on the Library’s first floor, the non-fiction movies on the second floor, and the wonderful collection of books and other materials, including DVDs, in the first-floor Children’s Room at the Iowa City Public Library.