Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Stellaluna Movie Poster Image
Picture book gets a sweet musical adaptation for families.
  • G
  • 2012
  • 41 minutes

Parents say

age 4+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Children will learn about the differences between a bat and a bird. Stellaluna instinctively wants to sleep all day and be up at night; she wants to lick her foster mother (a bird) and not eat the bugs and worms that her baby bird friends consume. An owl is introduced as a predator. When Stellaluna is reunited with her family, they teach her how to act like a bat.

Positive Messages

The movie, like the book, teaches lessons of self-identity, confidence, and family. At first Stellaluna is melancholy because she doesn't act or look like her bird hosts, but eventually she discovers who she is and where she belongs. The birds and the bats learn from each other. One song, "Best In You," reinforces that it isn't what's on the outside but on the inside that counts.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mother bird adopts Stellaluna but makes her promise to follow the rules of the nest and act like a bird. The mama is a bit strict about Stellaluna acting, flying, and eating "as a good bird should." Stellaluna has an identity crisis; she doesn't understand why she's different than her bird friends and doesn't fit in properly. When she's reunited with other bats, she's gratedful to her bird family and defends the way they raised her. But the baby birds are much crueler in the movie than they are in the book. The parrots Stellaluna meets teach her that it's not what she looks like but who she is that matters.

Violence & Scariness

The sequences with the owl chasing the fruit bats might frighten sensitive young viewers, especially because the perspective makes it seem like the mother bat is killed (she isn't). It's also scary when Stellaluna falls and is separated from her mother's grasp. Some children might find the fact Stellaluna's away from her family sad, even though she has a home with the birds until she's reunited with her bat family.

Sexy Stuff

Two birds embrace after helping Stellaluna.


The baby birds initially mock Stellaluna and say: "She's so weird, she's got no feathers!" and "You're the worst bird in the world."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Stellaluna is an animated adaptation of the classic children's picture book. It's fairly faithful to the book's premise, which follows a baby bat who's separated from her family. Younger kids, especially preschoolers, might be frightened when the owl chases the bats and Stellaluna falls away from her mother. Baby birds are mean to Stellaluna, but they eventually learn to respect Stellaluna as a fruit bat, not a "weird" bird. In addition to teaching kids about birds and bats, the movie encourages kids to treat each other fairly and appreciate one other's differences.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byHeather M. April 1, 2016

Too scary for sensitive littles.

I thought this would be just like the book, but instead they made some unnecessary (IMO) changes that makes this movie inappropriate for my sensitive 4 yr old.... Continue reading
Adult Written bymanelk November 8, 2014

Sweet film but too scary for my four-year old

This movie is sweet and it is very similar to the book; however my four-year-old who has heard the book many times found it really scary. She did not like it wh... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byELSA ELISABETH May 10, 2021

What's the story?

Based on Jannell Cannon's beloved children's book, STELLALUNA follows a baby fruit bat (voiced by Chiara Zanni) who becomes separated from her mother's grasp when an owl chases after their family of Flying Foxes. After landing near a nest, a mother bird takes in Stellaluna but tries to repress her differences. At first the baby birds are mean to Stellaluna, and she questions her ability to fit in with her bird foster family. But eventually she discovers the truth about her roots and where she belongs.

Is it any good?

Like most picture book adaptations, the charming movie is padded with songs and extra characters to fill out the simple plot. Those expecting a page-for-page filmed version of the book might be surprised at some of the characters' personality differences, but the fundamental story is the same: Stellaluna is "upside down" living with her new bird family, and she doesn't know why she's compelled to do things that are so un-bird like.

The animation isn't of the dazzling Pixar variety, but the songs are surprisingly catchy, and Stellaluna is an irresistibly sweet protagonist. This is one of the rare children's films that seamlessly blends in educational tidbits (in this case, about bird and bat habitats -- and habits), so kids will likely want to learn even more about bats, particularly Flying Foxes like Stellaluna.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Stellaluna's message of family and belonging. What other stories and movies deal with children separated from their families?

  • How are the baby birds like little bullies at first? What makes them change their mind? Kids: 

  • Why isn't it OK to treat people poorly because they're different? Parents: Read about how to handle bullying.

  • What does Stellaluna learn about herself in the story? Should the mama bird have forced her to act like a bird when she isn't one?

Movie details

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