Eleanor's Secret

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Eleanor's Secret Movie Poster Image
Reading saves the day in charming, mildly perilous tale.
  • NR
  • 2009
  • 80 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 2+
Based on 1 review

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

"Just because it's a story doesn't mean it's not real." "Mankind can never live without dreams." The world of imagination has more than just entertainment value. Don't judge from the way things and people look, because the treasure is hidden inside.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Aunt Eleanor was kind and encouraging. A junk dealer trying to steal Eleanor's collection of first edition books is a swindler. As the deadline for disappearing nears, the characters begin to fade into transparency, underscoring the urgency for Nat to save the day. The white rabbit bravely fights off the crab so his friends can escape. Nat shows courage in the face of peril. A child-eating ogre puts aside his normal appetites in favor of friendship. An annoying big sister turns out to be an ally.

Violence & Scariness

A storm shuts down the electricity and damages the roof as scary music plays. In what seems to be Nat's unpleasant daydream, letters come flying out of books, knocking Nat down. A wicked witch shrinks Nat. He is tossed through pages of giant books as the world goes temporarily black and white. He and storybook characters are chased by toddlers, crabs, and swirling ocean water.

Sexy Stuff
Language

"Idiot."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Eleanor's Secret is a 2010 French animated family treat that will enchant kids with its reverence for fairy tales and emphasis on the importance of make-believe. The action begins after the death of a beloved aunt who read stories aloud. Her absence means that characters from the world's great children's literature she loved so much face the possibility of disappearing. Her young nephew Nat, who struggles with reading aloud, is anointed "The Great Reader" by his aunt, charged with saving the stories. A wicked witch shrinks him to the size of his books' illustrations, and, from that disadvantage, he must evade such terrors as a normal-sized toddler's grabby hands, a crab's pincers, and other magnified perils as he labors to save the fairy tales.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bycmccloskey74 June 17, 2019

Great movie with a great message but be aware of some cultural differences in the animation

This is a good family movie. It has a great message about confidence and perseverance and - overall - it's a great pick. However, I will warn that there is... Continue reading
Parent of a 5-year-old Written byeloisejeanneau March 29, 2019
Teen, 14 years old Written bylafrancophile January 18, 2020

Disappointed

I don't hate it it's just that it's boring and I thought it was going to be really good. Turns out it's only for really little kids.

What's the story?

Nat's beloved great-aunt Eleanor has died and left the family her beach house. Nat cherished listening to her read stories to him, so it's no surprise that her final gift to him is the house's locked library, "ELEANOR'S SECRET," filled with valuable first edition fairy tales and children's books. The family doesn't know their value, and, needing money to make repairs, they agree to sell the books for a pittance to a canny junk dealer expecting to make a killing on the resale. At the same time, the books' characters explain to Nat that he has been selected to be Eleanor's successor as the new Great Reader, champion of the stories. The catch is that first he must read aloud the magic sentence that will keep them alive, a challenge since Nat still can't read aloud.

Is it any good?

This charming celebration of the imagination is a visual and emotional gem. The delightful animation in Eleanor's Secret is quirky and reminiscent of the vivid drawings of the Stinky Cheese Man illustrator Lane Smith. Although an ogre, a wicked witch, and mildly perilous adventures may worry smaller children, the idea that fictional characters from different stories are all friends who band together to save themselves so that more kids may enjoy them is something most kids can happily root for.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Nat's struggle to read aloud in Eleanor's Secret. Did you believe that Nat would be able to overcome his fear of reading aloud? How do you handle reading aloud?

  • Does Nat believe the fairy tale characters are real? Can book characters be make-believe but also real inside your imagination?

  • How is this French animated tale similar to and different from American movies for kids?

  • How do the characters in Eleanor's Secret demonstrate courage? Why is this an important character strength?

Movie details

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

For kids who love fairy tales

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