I recently had a class assignment in Children's Literature to pick 6 children's books from 3 different genres. One of the two I chose for Concept Books was by the author, Jerry Spinelli. I had never read him before. Of course, there is no reason I would have. My daughter is a professor herself now, and I do not read many children's books. I just happened on this author because of the literary guide my professor posted for the assignment. His books were listed with almost 5 stars and the more I read about him, the more intrigued I became. So, having picked The Library Card as one of my reads for Concept Books, I decided because Maniac Magee sounded so intriguing, I had to check it out as well. Boy was I rewarded for the time I spent reading these two books. This author writes like he was a teenager yesterday, though he is actually 78 years old! The most remarkable aspect of his writing is how he brings the character to life and transports you, the reader, back to that time in your life. I remembered having some of the feelings the characters had and how hard peer pressure was sometimes. My heart ached for the girl with the tattoo and piercings. Though my traits that placed me outside the "in" group were not piercings but rather big hair until I found ways to tame my unruly mane, I did identify with that feeling of having to stand up to the "mean girls" who seemed to be the norm. I was delighted to also see that his book, Stargirl, is being made by Disney into a movie. I am really excited to watch the movie and see how it stands up in terms of being like the book. I have a niece I would like to purchase it for and send to her.
Another great movie, also being made by Disney, is actually a re-make of the animated movie Mulan. This was always a favorite of my daughter, and I enjoyed watching it with her after school in the late afternoon. We'd settle down and pop some popcorn and enjoy the movie. We both like strong women characters and loved how Mulan becomes a warrior for her family's honor to save her elderly father from having to fill the role. The character who plays Mulan in the real-life movie looks as though she will be fantastic as the girl-warrior. I wait in anticipation of the movie and hope to hop up to Virginia to take my daughter to see it together.
It is so nice when the days are still short, cold, and seem to drag on to have a couple of great movies to look forward to. The holidays, other than Valentine's Day, but there are no breaks in school or the job, are all gone until Easter break, and the fun of summer is still a good ways away. These two strong women movies promise a fun time together at the theatre.
I identify with Spinelli's character in Stargirl, and Disney's Mulan. I never aspired to fit in the "norm." I liked standing out and standing up for what I felt was right. In the words of Leo's mom (Stargirl), "Figuring out who we are is the one thing no one else can do for us" (Stargirl, Disney). I'm glad we have movies that identify the star as brave women who do not conform to everyone else's idea of who they should be, but boldly choose to believe in who they uniquely are.
Hail the conquering heroines!