What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie based on Katherine Paterson's classic children's novel isn't a fantasy adventure as much as it is a thoughtful drama. The story includes mature themes about loneliness, platonic love, parental affection, family relationships, religious/class differences, and even death. For example, a financially troubled father is emotionally distant from his son, while the mother seems too overwhelmed with five kids to connect to any of them. At school, kids are ridiculed because of their appearance, and a bully and her associates routinely terrorize younger kids. Potential spoiler alert: Due to a central character's death, sensitive children (or those who've experienced the loss of a loved one) may need to be comforted after the film.
- Families can talk about what made Jess and Leslie such good friends. What did they teach each other? Were they boyfriend and girlfriend or something different? Why is that rare?
- Why was it so important for Jess and Leslie to have a "place just for us"? Kids: Do you have your own special place, or your own Jess or Leslie?
- If you've read the novel, how is the movie different? Parents should encourage kids who haven't read it yet to get a copy. And if you're willing, read along -- it's a wonderful book. For more ideas, see our discussion guide.