A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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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?
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