Archive for the ‘Wednesday Movies’ Category

Movie Wednesday: The Book Thief

Movie Wednesday The Book Thief

Liesel Meminger is sent to live with foster parents on Himmel (Heaven) Street in the time just prior to World War II in Germany. Her brother dies on the journey and Liesel arrives shaken and traumatized…and with a book which might not be hers. Things worsen when she is sent to school and it is discovered that Liesel cannot read.

But her new foster ‘Papa’ begins teaching Liesel to read one night and she soon enters a world of words and maybe a few stolen books. However, the real world outside of Liesel’s books is churning towards cruelty and war, and one day the reality of that war arrives at her new family’s door in the form of a Jewish young man seeking shelter.


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Published in 2005, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak follows the young life of Liesel Meminger through the spectral eyes of Death as the book’s narrator, who chronicles her growing pains and book thievery amidst the backdrop of Nazi Germany. Inspired partially by the stories told to him as a child by his parents about the war, Zusak’s novel has gained widespread acclaim.

In 2013, The Book Thief was adapted into a film directed by Brian Percival and starring Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, and Sophie Nélisse as the book thief, with an Oscar nominated and Grammy Award winning score by John Williams. Amidst lavish cinematography and gripping acting performances from the cast, the movie explores both the extreme light and darkness held in contradiction within humanity as seen through the eyes of a child whose burgeoning literacy becomes the lens through which she processes and makes sense of the turbulent world around her.

A note to parents: The Book Thief is rated PG-13 and contains some highly disturbing content for younger audiences. We recommend looking up the film on sites like Commonsense Media before deciding if it is appropriate for your family.

Discussion Questions

  • How do you feel about the choice to have Death narrate the story? Do you think it adds or detracts from the emotional impact of the events that unfold?
  • In the book Rosa physically beats Liesel multiple times. This is largely omitted from the film. Why do you think the filmmakers made that choice? Does it change the relationship between Rosa and Liesel?
  • Throughout the course of the story, Liesel famously steals several books. What might the story be saying about literacy as something to be taken when it is not given?
  • At the end of the film, Death says that he is haunted by humans. What do you think he means by this?

Additional Resources

Markus Zusak discusses the inspiration, themes, and writing process of the Book Thief (parents should be aware that violence and the Holocaust are discussed in this video)

BoomerangLearn language arts with the Book Thief Boomerang!

The Boomerang is a monthly digital downloadable product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel. It is geared toward 8th to 10th graders (ages 12—advanced, 13-15) and is the indispensable tool for Brave Writer parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.

Movie Wednesday: The Hound of the Baskervilles

Movie Wednesday The Hound of the Baskervilles

Detective Sherlock Holmes is asked to investigate the mysterious and seemingly supernatural death of Charles Baskerville and to prevent the death of the new heir to the Baskerville estate, Henry. According to local superstition, the Baskerville family is cursed by a giant spectral hound, which always hunts down the head of the family. Holmes sends his good friend, Dr. John Watson, to the moors of Devonshire to investigate. But the case quickly proves much more complex and sinister than originally supposed.


[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]


The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was first published in Strand Magazine in a series of installments from August 1901 to April 1902. It marked the return of Sherlock Holmes to publication after the titular character’s infamous “death” in the story The Final Problem. The Hound of the Baskervilles takes place prior to the legendary detective’s seeming demise and it was the popularity of this story that ultimately lead to the revival of the character.

The Hound of the Baskervilles has been adapted to screen many, many times (in fact, did you know that Sherlock Holmes is considered the record holder for most portrayed literary human character in film and TV?), but perhaps one of the most well known is the 1939 film starring Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson. It’s notable for being one of the first known Holmes adaptation to be set in the Victorian era instead of a more updated setting and for beginning a long running series of Holmes films even though it was the only one in the series to be directly and strictly based on a story by Conan Doyle.

Movie Wednesday The Hound of the Baskervilles

Discussion Questions

  • One of the joys of detective fiction is that it invites the viewer or the reader to hypothesize on their own as the story progresses. Did you have any hypotheses while watching The Hound of the Baskervilles? Were they the same or different than the conclusions Holmes and Watson come to? Explain one of your hypotheses.
  • Do you think it was acceptable for Holmes to mislead Watson and the others to believe he was staying in London while in reality he was out on the moor? Why or why not?
  • The 1939 film takes several liberties with Conan Doyle’s text. If you’ve read the book, what was a change in the film that you liked and one you didn’t like? Explain you answers.
  • In the book, the hound is doused in phosphorous to make it appear spectral, but in the film the hound appears simply as a large dog. Which do you think is more frightening and why?

Additional Resources

Infographic

DIY 221B notebook

BoomerangLearn language arts with the Hound of the Baskervilles Boomerang!

The Boomerang is a monthly digital downloadable product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel. It is geared toward 8th to 10th graders (ages 12—advanced, 13-15) and is the indispensable tool for Brave Writer parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.

Movie Night: James and the Giant Peach

Movie Wednesday James and the Giant Peach

James Henry Trotter has lived with his ghastly aunts, Sponge and Spiker, ever since his parents were eaten by an escaped rhinoceros. Life is miserable… until a mysterious old man gives him a bag of magic crocodile tongues, which James accidentally uses to grow a peach the size of a house!

This fantastic fruit, and the friendly insects who live in it, might just be James’ path to a new life of adventure, if he can survive ghost pirates, robot sharks, and the return of the deadly rhinoceros, that is.


[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]


Roald Dahl was and continues to be a beloved children’s author. James and the Giant Peach was one of Dahl’s first and most popular novels for children, and in 1996 it was adapted into a film. Produced by Tim Burton and Denise Di Novi, the film combines live action and stop motion animation elements (it took a whole week to animate one minute of film!) in order to contrast of James’ miserable “real” life with the fantastical adventure he goes on inside the giant peach.

James and the Giant Peach is a scary, warmhearted, and beautiful film for the whole family.

Discussion Questions

  • If you’ve read the original book, how do you think the film compares? Out of the changes that have been made, which ones do you think are the most successful?
  • Does James change during the film or is it just that his circumstances change? Explain.
  • What do you think of the combination of animation and live-action sequences? What other films can you think of that do this?
  • Do the occasional songs seem justified or out of place? Why or why not.
  • Are Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker evil or simply unpleasant? Give examples.
  • Do you think there is a moral to the story? If so, what is it?

Additional Resources

The official Roald Dahl website

The ArrowLearn language arts with the James and the Giant Peach (free sample) Arrow!

The Arrow is the monthly digital product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel (you purchase or obtain the novels yourself). It’s geared toward children ages 8-11 and is an indispensable tool for parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.

Movie Wednesday: A Series of Unfortunate Events

Movie Wednesday A Series of Unfortunate Events

By Brave Writer Alum Amy Frantz

Don’t look! Stop reading now. Unless you are a strange person and enjoy stories about misfortune and mishaps befalling young people, then I suppose you may continue.

Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire suddenly find themselves orphaned when their parents die in a suspicious fire. They are sent to live with their “closest” relative Count Olaf, whose uninviting behavior is matched only by his dilapidated home and unreasonable list of chores he expects the children to perform. It soon becomes clear that Olaf’s intentions towards the children are sinister indeed–a phrase which here means “not with the Baudelaires’ best interests at heart”–in fact he just wants their fortune and will stop at nothing to get it. The children’s pleas for help are not taken seriously by the adults who surround them, leaving them to their own resourcefulness to escape the dreadful Olaf.


[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]


The Bad Beginning, the first book in A Series of Unfortunate Events, was first published in 1999 by author Daniel Handler under the pseudonym—a word which here means “a fictitious name used by an author”—Lemony Snicket. In the books, Snicket is actually the fictional narrator of the Baudelaire children’s misfortunes and constantly advises the reader to stop reading (which really, you should do. Turn away now before it’s too late).

The books use a Gothic tone contrasted with exaggeratedly absurd events, while Snicket as the narrator maintains that his story is as true as it is unpleasant, bringing an element of whimsy to the otherwise bleak story.

In 2004 the first three books in the series were adapted into a film starring Jim Carrey as the nefarious Count Olaf. Behind-the-Scenes difficulties, however, prevented the making of any sequels.

But in 2017 Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events breathed new life into the story, adapting the first four novels of the Baudelaire children’s unhappy lives to screen.

The Bad Beginning was recently covered in the Arrow Book Club. If your kids wish to know more about the “misfortune, misery, and despair” of the Baudelaire orphans, for reasons which we here cannot fathom, then take this opportunity to deep dive into the filmed adaptations. Watch one or both and compare!

Discussion Questions

  • When the Baudelaires learn of their parents’ death, Snicket says that if you haven’t experienced what the children are experiencing, then you cannot imagine how they feel. Do you think this is true? Explain why or why not.
  • In the 2004 film, the events of the first book, The Bad Beginning, are split up and bookend the film instead of being kept together the way they are in the novel. How do you think this alters the characters’ journeys in the story?
  • The Netflix series adds in several scenes that aren’t in the books. Particularly Mr. Poe’s wife being more concerned with getting good headlines for the newspaper than actually caring about the newly orphaned children. How do you feel about these additions and what do you think they might be saying about society?
  • The film has an uplifting ending in stark contrast with the Netflix series, which maintains the ongoing nature of the Baudelaires’ unhappiness. Which way do you prefer the story to be told and why?
  • Which portrayal of Count Olaf do you find the most effective, Jim Carrey’s slapstick humor of the film or Neil Patrick Harris’ more subdued and sinister performance in the Netflix series? Explain your answer.

Additional Resources

How to make DIY A Series of Unfortunate Events themed mug, pillow, and notebook

The ArrowLearning language arts with the Bad Beginning Arrow!

The Arrow is the monthly digital product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel (you purchase or obtain the novels yourself). It’s geared toward children ages 8-11 and is an indispensable tool for parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.

Movie Wednesday: The Hobbit

Movie Wednesday The Hobbit

Bilbo Baggins is a Hobbit who values his ordinary life filled with ordinary comforts. But one day the wizard Gandalf puts a mark on Bilbo’s door and a company of thirteen Dwarves shows up on Bilbo’s doorstep. The Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, have set out to retake their home which they were driven from many years ago by a fire-breathing dragon. The company wants Bilbo to be their burglar and help them take back their home and the treasures within it. Bilbo is quickly sucked into a world of adventure, danger, haunted woods, trolls, and dragons, and he begins to discover that perhaps he’s not so ordinary after all.


[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]


The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, by J.R.R. Tolkien was first published in 1937. Although considered by some a “prequel” to the later published Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit was initially a separate story in its own right. It has gone on to be widely considered a classic both of children’s literature and high fantasy.

The Hobbit has been adapted many times over the years, one of the most recent additions being the film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson. The three films are titled

The Hobbit Trilogy draws not only from Tolkien’s original novel, but also from material in the appendices of the third Lord of the Rings installment, the Return of the King, as well as original material created for the film.

At first intended to be a duology, the films were expanded into a trilogy with additional scenes filmed and added in. All three movies were filmed in 3D and have a higher frame rate giving the films a distinctive, clear, and “glowing” quality.

A note to parents: All three installments in the Hobbit Trilogy are rated PG-13. We recommend looking up the films on sites like Commonsense Media before deciding if they are right for your family.

Discussion Questions

  • It has often been noted that the Hobbit novel does not feature any female characters. The film trilogy adds the female Woodland Elf Tauriel, a completely new character unique to the movies, and also features Galadriel, a character from Lord of the Rings. What do you think Tauriel and Galadriel’s presence adds to the story?
  • Do you have a favorite Dwarf in the company? How do you think the story might be different if it was told from that character’s point of view instead?
  • After the Dwarves retake Erebor, Thorin begins covetously hording his gold and grows suspicious of his friends and comrades. Near the end of the final film after overcoming his “dragon sickness,” Thorin reflects that “If more people valued home above gold, this world would be a merrier place.” What do you think the story may be trying to say about greed and materialism?
  • At the beginning of An Unexpected Journey, Bilbo is none too happy to have his quiet evening crashed by the Dwarves. How do you think you would react if you were in Bilbo’s position?

Additional Resources

The Hobbit Learning Resources and Activities

BoomerangLearn language arts with the Hobbit Boomerang!

The Boomerang is a monthly digital downloadable product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel. It is geared toward 8th to 10th graders (ages 12—advanced, 13-15) and is the indispensable tool for Brave Writer parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.