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12 Book-Inspired Movies for Girls

12 Book-Inspired Movies for Girls

Any day now, my littlest sister should get her travel dates to come home permanently! I’m super excited to have four younger sisters at last. Having little girls in the house (the youngest being nine and eleven) gives me a very heightened sense when it comes to books and movies. I always have my eye out for a good book to read to or recommend to them and the same goes for movies. Not only do I look for good, clean entertainment, but I also try to read the message of the story before tossing it in their direction. Almost every book and movie has some sort of agenda, good or bad, and I want to know what that agenda is before introducing them to a new philosophy!

Though Meggie is only just learning to read English, Jubilee has become quite the bookworm and, consequently, some of their favorite movies are based on books. I’ve composed a list of twelve book-inspired movies for courageous, kind-hearted, young ladies.

1. Nancy Drew (2007)

Though this may come as quite a blow for diehard Nancy Drew fans, this modernized version of her character and new spin on an old story is cute, funny and inspiring. My sister (now nineteen) definitely “channeled Nancy” for a while after this came out, complete with the super blunt haircut! Nancy is fearless, polite, tenderhearted and definitely true to herself. Of course, she completely disobeys her father, but it kind of turns out to be in the name of the greater good? Don’t think too hard on that.

2. Madeline (1998)

This is a classic in my family! When this came out, we recorded it on a tape and kept it at my grandparents’ house next door. I think it was the only movie we watched there for a couple of years and we still love it! Madeline is closely based on the picture books by Ludwig Behelmans and follows the tale of a young, French orphan (with a British accent) who laughs at the face of danger, makes friends, and goes on a thrilling adventure. Madeline really shows some strong character traits, especially in regard to a dying elderly woman and her bitter husband. This movie is both light and sweet with a good message. Leaves you feeling happy. “I see trees of green, red roses too…”

3. A Little Princess (1995)

Based on the classic Frances Hodgson Burnett book, A Little Princess follows young Sara Crewe who is left in at an upstanding boarding school while her single father fights for the Queen. Though she starts off very wealthy and naive, she learns that there is more to life than pretty things when her father is reported MIA and her funds run out. Sara exhibits a wonderful imagination, a strong sense of friendship and above all else, hope.

4. Ramona and Beezus (2010)

I was very pleasantly surprised by this movie! John Corbett as Mr. Quimby has to be one of my favorite TV/Movie-dads ever. I enjoyed watching this right along with my little siblings. Ramona’s antics are hilarious, horrible and completely well-intended. She deals with feeling left out, trying to get along with an almost-grown up Beezus, “losing” her dear aunt to romance and loving her enemies. Great flick.

5. Kit Kitteredge (2008)

Again-I was surprised by how good this one is. Based on the American Girl series, Kit Kitteredge follows the story of a young, depression-era heroine who wants to be a journalist. The cast of character is marvelous, along with the big names chosen to play them (including Joan Cusack, Julia Ormond, Stanely Tucci, Willow Smith, Colin Mochrie, Wallace Shawn and more!) When times get tough, Mr. Kitteredge goes to Chicago to look for work and Kit and her mom open up their home to boarders. The adventure, mystery and comedy that ensue is worth watching! So adorable.

6. Anne of Green Gables (1985)  (and “The Sequel” 1987)

You saw this coming, didn’t you? The first two movies are sublime. Cheesy? Yes. Sentimental? For sure. Required? Oh yeah. I love the classic series by L. M. Montgomery and the movies do not disappoint. These are great for adolescents (may lose the attention of wee ones) and deal gently with “coming of age” issues. These are so funny and always make me choke up. I want to be Anne.

7. Ella Enchanted (2004)

Anne Hathaway rocks the princess thing, yes? This is a retelling of Cinderella…with a big twist. And a touch of 70’s flair too! Ella is cursed with the inability to disobey, even when she’s told, for example, to “hop along”! I love this movie because it’s still funny now that I’m an adult and ends in a dance party. Not to spoil anything, but Ella bravely breaks her own curse and saves the kingdom. It rocks.

8. National Velvet (1944)

This may be slightly lesser known to today’s young movie watchers, but it’s a classic here. Elizabeth Taylor debuts alongside Mickey Rooney in this adaptation of the classic book. Young Velvet is obsessed with horses and dreams of having one of her own. When, by chance, she wins the frisky troublemaker dubbed “Pie” in a raffle, she is determined to have it race. Rooney plays a tramp with a mysterious past who reluctantly helps Velvet train Pie for the races while her English Channel-swimming mother inspires her to pursue her biggest dreams. You’ll be rooting for Velvet and Pie all the way through!

9. Little Women (1994)

Based on my all-time favorite novel, this movie attempts to tell the story of Louisa May Alcott’s famous March sisters…and does a pretty good job of it! My sisters and I traditionally watch this every winter (AFTER it gets cold) and laugh and cry along with Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Nothing beats this real-life-inspired story of family, courage, growing up, poverty, dreams, romance, disappointment and perseverance. Enough said.

10. Pollyanna (1960)

First of all, if you haven’t read the book, it was much better than I expected it to be. Well-written and interesting. Of course, the Hayley Mills adaptation is a classic in it’s own right. I haven’t seen this in a long time because we only have it on VHS (or, as Jubilee would say, “fat movie”,) but I’ve always loved it. Pollyanna hasn’t had an easy life, but she has a cheerful disposition that cannot be snuffed out! She goes to show that our attitudes change everything, including the people around us.

11. Felicity (2005)

Another movie based on an American Girl series (and my favorite one, at that,) Felicity is the story of a Revolutionary War-era young patriot. Felicity has an awesome adventure (you will have an urge to sneak out in britches to care for an abused horse after you watch it) and learns so much about friendship, loyalty, selflessness and courage. This film isn’t made in the same quality as Kit Kitteredge, but you’ll get to see a young Shailene Woodley show of her budding acting skills and, if you’re like me, feel your heart burst a little as the credits roll.

12. The Secret Garden (1993)

Another movie based on a Burnett novel, this is a strange and wonderful movie. Maggie Smith plays the uptight head of housekeeping at the gloomy mansion where the recently orphaned Mary is sent to stay in the care of her distant uncle. The unique thing about this story is that Mary does not start of charming and delightful…at all. She is spoiled and lonely and angry and dull. But the transformation of the neglected garden she discovers is reflected in her very heart, and the unusual friendships she develops along the way are magnificent. The feeling of the movie is somewhat reminiscent of Jane Eyre for children. Very English and suspicious. The story itself is wonderful for anyone who will take the time to really listen to it.

That’s 12 Book-Inspired Movies for Girls! What would add to the list?

-Everly

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you are not a body

I have had so many thoughts on body-image swarming through my mind lately. After some of our team members at Kindred Grace opened up about it in April, my sisters and I had a long conversation about how we really talk to ourselves. Since then, every glance at the computer screen seems to be met with articles about eating disorders, health, pornography, lust, accepting one’s self, the approval of man and all of the many other topics that I’m realizing spurn from how we each see our own bodies.

It is one of those things I wonder if I could write a book about (but quickly realize many people already have!) because the more I think about it, the bigger the topic becomes. I used to think of body-image as something we talked to junior-high girls about to help them through their awkward stage. After that, my philosophy was always something between “God loves you, no matter what you look like” and “get over it already!” In short, I saw little value in discussing something so shallow and carnal as how a person sees his or her own physical body.

But then I grew up. And by grew up, I mean, made it through puberty. Was the body image message dead to me now? I felt pretty good about myself. I mean, I was no supermodel, but that was okay with me. I wore what I wanted and continually thought less and less about what my peers thought about me. I had this body image thing in the bag!

And then I started gaining weight. For the sake of honesty and clarity, I will say that I went from being a very small, underweight (though healthy) person, to being a slightly more average-sized person. In other words, I wasn’t fifteen anymore. Sit-ups were no longer second nature. Dessert no longer vanished into thin air. Then the strangest thing began to happen: I realized I had never been truly confident in my identity in Christ after all. I had been confident in my thinness.

While telling myself that I didn’t care what society told me to look like, I was secretly comforted by the fact that I happened to fit much of society’s criteria. Primarily: I was skinny. Maybe I was also pimply, flat-chested and gangly, but no one could call me fat. That made me confident, and the slight change in the scale pulled that rug right out from under my feet.

I began to realize how negative my self-talk was. “Well that’s lovely.” I’d say to my morning mirror. I’d get angry trying to fasten my jeans. I’d untag myself from unflattering Facebook pictures in which I thought my stomach was bulgy. I was nit-picking my own appearance.

And this from a girl who has been raised in a great, Christian home by parents who had always called her beautiful. This from a girl with super supportive friends who never criticized her appearance. This from a girl who weighs less than average.

Is this not the result of fashion magazines and photo-shopped movie stars? Is this not the crazy sort of thoughts that bring about eating disorders? Why are we ever shocked by those who starve and gag themselves when their whole lives, the world has been telling them they’ll never measure up? And what’s worse, that they’re unloveable. Look at the check-out line and you’ll find two things on nearly ever magazine: how to lose weight and how to get men and be sexually satisfying to them. The two are inseparable. It’s not about health, but about market value.

My mind reels with thoughts about innate worth and sexism. My heart weighs heavy with stories of girls on hospice, literally starving because they’re convinced, deep within their spirit, that they are fat. And life is just not worth living if you’re not a beanpole with balloon boobs.

I am linking at the bottom of this post to some recent posts that have inspired me and given me food for thought. As I said, the topic just gets broader and broader the more I think about it! Through all this, one thing has finally come to the surface of my mind and that’s what I’m going to close with.

Whether you are fat or skinny, confident or mortified, black or white, tall or short, selling yourself or hiding your skin, health-nut or couch-potato, there is one thing we must all remember: You are not a body.

You are not disfigured just because your body is disfigured. You are not unacceptable just because your body has been rejected. You are not unpresentable just because you’re hair is never like you wish it would be. You are not lacking just because you’re thin, you are not too much just because you’re heavy. You are not wasted just because you’ve shown yourself to the world, you are not unlovely just because nobody’s ever told you so. You are not a body.

You are a soul.

A living, spiritual being. Your body is simply your place of residence. A body is not a house. Tea is not a teacup. What use is a teacup without the fragrant, warm tea to be poured inside?

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and all the eyes turn away, are you ugly? Our eyes can only see the exterior! O, if we could see your soul!

Interesting links:

Food/Eating Disorders:

What is Your Foodview? by Jenni Marie

Dear Miss Indiana: Thank You for Loving Your Body by Emily T. Wierenga

Understanding Disordered Eating by Neeva Walters (also: Disordered Eating: Hope for Healing)

On body-image:

Women & Daughters: When You’re Tired of Media Voices Telling You What Beauty & Love Is by Ann Voskamp

On Body Image and Self Worth at Design for Mankind

Moms, Put On that Swimsuit by Jessica Turner

How to Teach Beauty in a World that’s Blind  by Natasha Metzler

What Makes You Beautiful  by Bailey B.

Health:

Is Physical Health a Spiritual Issue? by Tyler Huckabee

How sexism plays in:

Women Swiftly Running Out of Things that Aren’t Sexy @ Patheos (*minor language)

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“I like your Christ”

Christians sometimes have a bad reputation because sometimes we live up to it. Though many Christ-followers have mimicked their leader by being generous, kind and self-sacrificing, others have worn the name of Christ while leading crusades against muslims, marching through military funerals ranting about doom or just generally being a jerk. For Christians who are concerned about our reflection on Christ to the world, nothing scares us quite so much as the idea that people are rejecting God-their only chance of hope in this life-because of our nasty attitude. The peaceful Indian leader, Gandhi, was a good man who missed out on a great God. Though I love his example and definitely believe he is someone we could all learn from, his quotes sometimes send shivers down my spine. Gandhi famously said,

Jesus is ideal and wonderful, but you Christians are not like him.

(Or, alternately: “I like your Christ, I dislike your Christians.” The quotes are somewhat debated, but the sentiment remains.) It is statements like this which frighten us most, and well they should! We need to be reminded, even if through harsh words from a Hindu, when we are not being Christ-like. Quotes like these spur us on to be better Christians, more like our Christ. They might pop into our minds when we’re talking to unbelieving friends, keeping us from gossiping or reminding us to control our tempers. They inspire us to love our neighbor by giving them a more accurate depiction of the love of God. However, I think we sometimes take this so seriously, we forget one very important part of our theology.

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Though we are all innately evil (including those of us who come to know Christ,) people are never the enemy. Non-Christians are not my enemy and I am not their enemy. As a matter of fact, though we sometimes seem to have little in common and entirely different values, goals and agendas, we all have a common enemy.

Though Christians certainly need to learn some manners, our Facebook rants are not the source of all evil. Our hypocrisy and self-righteousness are sinful and may lead someone astray, but they are not what is sending souls to hell. All of these sins that pop up in our own lives (and I repeat: pride, self-righteousness, hypocrisy, gossip, bitterness, bad tempers, bad manners) are tools in the hand of the real enemy.  John calls him “the thief.”

The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. John 10:10

If someone was wreaking havoc in your neighborhood, breaking into every home to rob, beat and murder you and your neighbors, would you not feel unified against this threat? Would you all sit down to have an argument or pity party about who left their door unlocked and who was unarmed? No! Everyone is being terrorized, everyone has a common enemy.

We must open our eyes to the real and present danger that is Satan. Guns are not the leading cause of death, nor cancer, drunk driving, illegal drugs or obesity. The leading and only cause of death is Satan. There was no death until he slithered in and death will be the last enemy conquered. You know what pulls kids away from church? Is it the style of our music or the inconsistencies in our lifestyles? Is it illicit behavior that’s now acceptable in high school? Pornography? Gang violence? Liberal media? Broken homes?

None of the above. The leading and only cause of people falling away from God is Satan. Likewise, he is also the cause of porn and violence and broken homes, but those are merely tools he uses to “steal, kill and destroy.”

So yes, be a nicer person. Look into your heart and make sure you are reflecting Christ in your lifestyle, words and actions. Let your friends and coworkers know that those who protest at funerals and leave nasty rants on Facebook have nothing to do with you and your God. But also keep in mind, we are not the enemy. And, when interacting with nonbelievers, remember that none of us are enemies at all. We share a common enemy. And then, do not neglect the next part of John 10:10, these words from our ideal and wonderful Christ,

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

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the gentle slope

Sunday afternoon, I had come home from church after spending several hours there singing, listening, praying, taking notes, flipping through the pages of my Bible, fellowshipping and attending a lunch meeting. I plopped onto my bed and surveyed my bedspread. Sundays usually find my bed in disarray because I clean primarily on Mondays. A pile of clean laundry perched on one corner, a stack of books where my second pillow should be. I’ve spent too many years sharing a full-sized mattress to ever learn to sleep in the middle, so the other side of my bed always seems to turn into extra storage during the week.

I glanced around at the books that had been left there. The Eleanor Estes book I’m reading aloud to Jubilee, a book on illustrating children’s books, The Christian Writer’s Market Guide from 2011 (which is, as I suspected, quite useless now) and my Bible. I remembered how my class that morning had inspired me to read scripture to myself more often. I’m taking a class on The Creation Issue and our teacher referenced some scriptures I had certainly never considered, much less meditated on. I also remembered how I’d had trouble coming up with a prayer request during our small group time. Was it that there were too many to choose from or that I hadn’t thought much about prayer at all recently?

I should really stop and pray right now. I thought. Not only did I feel that I should, but I knew it would be beneficial to me.  I was just about to stop and grab a pen and open my journal to write out a prayer when I remembered something I needed to do on my computer. It was terribly important that I check my Elance account just then. While I was doing that, I remembered that someone had sent me a message on Facebook I had never responded to. I opened up Facebook on another tab and quickly responded to the note. Wow—how did I already get this many notifications? I proceeded to click on each one and “like” or comment accordingly.

I was suddenly feeling very inspired to chime in on an interesting thread I saw going about writing. I put in my two cents with prolific ease. What was it I was going to blog about? I perused my search history to try to remember. Ah yes! My reading challenge. I wanted to pick up the pace now that June was upon me. I reached for the book on illustration.

Wait a second, wasn’t there something I was going to do?

Now, I don’t know a lot about spiritual warfare other than it exists. I don’t have a theological argument for how The Enemy works or what tools he uses. What I do know is that I suddenly come up with lots of “good” things to do right as I’m about to do the only really vital thing I can do: communicate with The Creator.

In C. S. Lewis’ book The Screwtape Letters, a demonic character writes:

Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts…

In my experience, Satan does not ever, ever tell me what he’s up to or where I’m headed. When I’m tempted, it comes in the form of half-truths and justifications. I am most often drawn away from God by being distracted with “good.” A good thing to do, a good place to go, a good thought to entertain, a good movie to plop down in front of. It is a very safe road to hell indeed to continually find more and more good things to distract you from the only source of Good we’ve ever known.

At another point in the book, the demon remarks:

It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.

Our hearts are already full of sin and impurity. You don’t have to teach a baby to scream or hit or be possessive or show favoritism. It’s our nature! What is against our nature is to go back to the way we were in The Garden of Eden before the serpent slithered onto the scene. To go back to those thought patterns and actions and culture is to swim upstream. We have to consciously open our spiritual eyes and see God all around us. This sometimes feels like opening one’s eyes underwater, unnatural and highly intimidating. Eyes are so vulnerable, we’d sometimes rather be blind than expose them to the truth.

We have to consciously shut out the impure thoughts and ask God to take them far away. We have to consciously take in the Bible, God’s letter to us, and “hide it” in our hearts. Much of the Bible is unpleasant, confusing, demanding, even gory and erotic. I’m not sure what sort of person, not seeing the living value of it, would choose to read it over and over again as Christians do.

We have to pray in private, knowing that God is always with us, and daily open our eyes under the sea, come sand come salt, and allow God to show us new things. We have to silence our sinful thoughts which want to walk us gently and comfortable into Hell or, in the case of a Christian, into a dormant state of no production or communication, and forcibly open the door for The Holy Spirit. A strange new visitor who does everything backward. Instead of retaliation, submission. Instead of gain, loss. Instead of taking, giving. Instead of hate, love.

EP-come sand come salt

Instead of life and then death, death and then life! You have to retrain your mind to see things backwards and upside down, but when you do, you’ll see things clearer than ever. You’ll realize that the first time you were born, you were born upside down and you’ve been walking around upside down ever since. The real life, the real reality, is the other way around and you must allow yourself to be righted before you can walk that life.

When He [God] talks of their losing their selves, He means only abandoning the clamour of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever. –The Screwtape Letters

You know that you should not sin, but do you know that you should not give, should not go to church, should not smile at a passerby, should not evangelize, should not read Christian literature, should not do a good deed until you have realized that all of that is but clanging symbols without a connection to and a relationship with the source of all that is good? Put down your book, blog, conversation. Put down your list, your calling even. Put it all down and pick up your eyes. Look up to Zion and ask yourself, am I trudging uphill toward a glorious peak, or slowly and comfortable sliding down the gentle slope?

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reading challenge update!

This year, I gave myself a Read-My-Bookcase Challenge. The idea was to read umpteen first-time books of my own bountiful shelf instead of buying new books because I happen to hear about them or hear them recommended this year. I have not done so well keeping up the pace (I’ve never been a fast reader,) but I am so excited by what I have got to read. I chose several books that did come highly recommended or that just looked really good, a variety of fiction, non-fiction and children’s literature. I can honestly say I’ve added a few to my Favorites List already, and that is saying a lot!

I have started two trilogies that I’m excited to get back to, “The Hawk and the Dove” by Penelope Wilcock and “Call the Midwife” by Jennifer Worth. Both of these are very spiritual. “The Hawk and the Dove” is categorized as Christian fiction (a genre I normally run from) but it is really just a very well written, very interesting story which focuses on the residents of an ancient monastery. My favorite part of the book, is the other narrative; a mother telling her daughter these old stories about their ancestors. Modern-day Melissa becomes just as much a character as the monks in the old tales. This book was truly well-written, kept my attention and touched my heart.

“Call the Midwife” is the real-life memoirs of a midwife in 1950’s London. Though the book is categorized as secular, it has a lot of spiritual undertones. The main character and authoress, Jenny, works alongside Anglican nuns who teach her how to care for the people of Poplar and also how to find God. This is definitely a new favorite of mine. I couldn’t put it down, couldn’t stop talking about it and loved every character. This has also been made into a popular BBC series of the same title which is also wonderful (and sticks pretty close to the books, so far.)

In order to further educate myself in the art of illustration, I read “Show Me a Story” by Leonard S. Marcus, which is a collection of interviews he conducted with the world’s leading children’s book illustrators (including, to my delight, Eric Carle, Maurice Sendak, Kevin Henkes, Quentin Blake and more.) I found these fascinating and inspiring. I am now in the middle of “Illustrating Children’s Books” by Martin Salisbury, which is proving to be very good as well.

I have technically only marked three books off my list, because I wound up adding a few in for Lenten reading which took a lot of my reading time, but I’m hoping to pick up the pace more and more as summer progresses. I do love summer, particularly when it allows for literary leisure time!

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