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U.S.A. Popcorn Adventure #14
June 27, 2007

Land Of Imagination

Bridge To Terabithia + Taking A Hike

The classic childhood novel Bridge To Terabithia portrays the universal thrills and chills of preadolescence using characters that kids would want to have as their own best friends. Disney's adaptation, just released on DVD, does this story justice. Jess, short on money but long on artistic talent, is the only boy in a family of silly girls, excepting Maybelle, and she's too young to understand him. Along comes Leslie, a city girl who moves to Jess's rural neck of the woods, and they strike up a friendship. The two find a secret tree house in the woods and create a magical land called Terabithia, where tree trunks grow feet, and squirrels turn into furry guerrilla warriors. Childhood must end and in this film, it does -- literally, when Leslie accidentally dies (fortunately, this takes place off screen). To honor Leslie's memory, Jess makes Terabithia live on through his little sister Maybelle, crowning her princess and introducing her to the kingdom of her own imagination.

Forests and woodlands are perfect places for children to create imaginary worlds, far from the hustle and bustle of their daily schedules. Following Jess and Leslie's footsteps on a nature hike is easy to do. On a Saturday morning, we grabbed a cup of coffee while our kids grabbed a few of their friends (and their moms), and we all headed to a nearby park for a 3 mile hike. In the sun-dappled hills, the kids whooped it up as they scrambled up paths covered in brambles and bush. They scraped a few shins, and bumped a few knees, but their imaginations ran as free as they did. We moms? We trailed the kids, happily chit-chatting away, feeling like we had all enjoyed a little piece of Terabithia.

 
Film Title: Bridge to Terabithia
Directed By: George Csupo
2007, Rated PG, 95 minutes


Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this film:
  • Why this Film is Worth It: The depiction of family and school life is so poignant that older children, and adults, will be drawn to its veracity. While the film's previews make it seem to be quite fantastic, the children's imaginary world is only part of the story.
  • Red Flags: We recommend this film for children from eight to sixteen. Unlike most films for kids, this story ends with a serious tragedy -- Leslie dies at the end of the second act. The only way to get to Terabithia is to swing on a rope over a stream, and when she goes alone on a rainy day, she falls, hits her head, and drowns; the accident is not depicted on screen. We suggest preparing your kids for the tragedy -- warn them it is occurs while Jess visits an art museum with his teacher.

Our tips for talking to your kids about this film:

  • Literary Savvy: We love the novel by Katherine Patterson and highly recommend reading it with your kids -- before the film is best, but after will do.
  • Financial Savvy: Our financial experts, Eileen and Jon Gallo, suggest this conversation starter: In Bridge to Terabithia, Jess trains to be the fastest kid in his grade, running in sneakers with holes that he has taped together. His family can not afford new shoes, so he is forced to wear his sister's hand-me-down pink sneakers. What can Jess be grateful for, in his life, that doesn't cost money? Can you think of ways that Jess could earn the money to buy a new pair of sneakers? And, what might his parents have done differently?


 

Take a Hike

Age Recomendation: from backpack babies to grandparents, you can scale the difficulty of a hike to match your age range
Time Allotment: 2 hours



Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this Popcorn Adventure:
  • What Worked for Us: Almost any hiking spot will work, the key is to find a place that you feel safe to let the kids wander. We urge you to allot as much time as you can manage because our kids can romp for hours, happily becoming bedraggled and filthy. Bring snacks and water along in a small backpack and, if it's warm, some hats and sunscreen. We often grab another family so that the parents can get lost in conversation while the kids explore.

Our City Editors' tips for enjoying this Popcorn Adventure around the USA:
  • Anywhere: Google Your City + hike and you should come up with plenty of options or try the site www.localhikes.com for more ideas and trail descriptions. 
  • Boston: The Blue Hills Reservation in nearby Milton offers a variety of hikes at all levels.  Skyline Loop is a challenging 3 mile hike with beautiful views of Boston.  There are lots of natural resting areas, and viewing towers.  For alternatives  at Blue Hills check Ranger Pete's Suggested Hikes. Stop in at Reservation Headquarters for maps.
  • Chicago: Heller Nature Center provides a bucolic oasis not far from the city, in Highland Park, IL. Here, you’ll find three miles of marked trails that weave among oak-hickory forests, tall-grass prairies, and natural wetlands.  Another option is the Blackwell Forest in DuPage County. Here, you’ll find more than seven miles of turf and limestone trails in hikes for a variety of different levels of challenge. Don’t miss Blackwell’s McKee Marsh area, which includes observation decks, a bird blind, and signs that describe the history of the marsh. For a strictly urban experience, explore the trails on the four-acre triangle, smack dab  in the middle of bustling Wicker Park.
  • Houston: Brazos Bend State Park is located approximately 28 miles southwest of Houston.  The park covers roughly 5000 acres of tall grass coastal prairie, wetland habitats and hardwood forest and features a sophisticated trail system winding throughout. Volunteers offer weekend nature programs including guided hikes, children's story time, bird hikes, "photo-walks" and more. Find maps of the trails and the calendar of events on the website.  
  • San Francisco: A favorite Bay Area moonlight hike is to Point Bonita Lighthouse, on the NW side of the Golden Gate. Summer dates: May 31st, June 1st, 29th & 30th, July 29th & 30th. Sign up in advance to be part of a naturalist guided hike to the lighthouse (415-331-1540), or just show up and hike down yourself. Tunnel to the lighthouse is closed except for these nights.  Hike includes steep hill & dark tunnel. Bring flashlight and warm clothes! Warning: the bridge over to the lighthouse is narrow with an impressive drop to the rocks below. Can be frightening for kids and adults.  However, the view from the mainland side of the bridge is fantastic also!
  • Washington, D.C.: Great Falls Park located in McLean, Va offers 15 miles of hiking trails of all varieties.  Your family can choose to hike through a wetland swamp, along the falls and Potomac River, or discover the historic canal ruins. The trails vary from 1-4 miles.  Every Saturday and Sunday you can join a thirty minute guided hike along the falls. Reservations are required. Check the schedule of events on the website.

 
Want more? Here are KOTC's picks of films, books, music, and websites that connect your family to more culture.



  • Click here for other films that work with this adventure at the Kids Off the Couch bookstore at Amazon.com.

  • Click here for books that go with this adventure at the Kids Off the Couch store at Amazon.com.