A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this story based on a children's book series hinges on a sad moment when the main character's father dies saving her from a wolf attack. Also white men brandish guns and arrows are shot; men die of their wounds. There are some faith-based undercurrents -- characters sing hymns and speak about the "Good Lord" -- and stereotypes of Native Americans and African Americans.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
This movie is based on the book of the same name by Lois Leppard. Mandie (Lexi Johnson) lives in a tiny shack in the hills of North Carolina. The year is 1899, and she is very sad whenever her father goes off hunting without her. One day, as she and her father are exploring a creek in the woods, he slips while saving her from a wolf attack. His death is a tragedy that turns Mandie's world upside down. When she discovers that her mother is going to send her to a neighboring town to work for a family, she runs away with her father's friend Ned. Ned takes her to her Uncle's estate, where Mandie is welcomed with open arms. Her Uncle is thought to be lost at sea, but the man who runs the estate, Jason (Dean Jones), encourages her to find her Uncle's will so that she can claim her true inheritance.
Is it any good?
In the spirit of Little House on the Prairie for its setting, and The Secret Garden for its family mystery, this story is a compelling tale about a brave girl who discovers her past. The secret tunnel and the legend that tells of Mandie's heritage are indeed interesting, but families may be put off by some troublesome stereotypes, both of Native Americans who speak in broken English ("Him sorry, Papoose") and African-American servants who seem a little too pleased with their lot.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Mandie's search for her own family. When she finds out her real heritage, she asks a few questions and drinks her tea. How would you react if you were in her shoes?
What were relations like between "Indian" people and white folk back in Mandie's time? How were African-Americans treated? What kind of stereotypes do you find in this movie?
Mandie talks about bringing water from the creek to take a bath, and she milks the cow in the morning. What was life really like in 1899? Was there electricity in a home like Mr. Shaw's? What would you do if you had no electricity or running water?
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