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Akeelah and the Bee is a film of immense pulchritude. Pulchrutude, derived from Latin, is defined by Webster's as "extreme beauty." Akeelah Anderson, an eleven year-old girl, tries to hide her smarts at a tough Los Angeles school because she is labeled a "freak" and a "brainiac." What she can't hide from herself is that she can spell up a storm and secretly dreams of competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Akeelah has to compete with much more than other bee contestants to get to the nationals; she has to persuade her over-worked mom, convince a reluctant coach to take her on, and search deep inside herself to see if she has what it takes to win. Akeelah is a great kid, and our kids cheered her on as she competed, not just because she's a fighter but also for being a brave and ethical child, the kind they would want as a friend. The very definition of pulchritude. Which, by the way, turns out to be Akeelah's winning word.
Thursday evenings usually involve quizzing our elementary schoolers for their Friday spelling tests. We've made it through words like psychologist and recommendation, and extra credit words like sarcophagus. Tuning into the Scripps National Spelling Bee takes spelling to a whole different stratosphere. In 2006, Kerry Close of Asbury Park, New Jersey, won with the word ursprache. Our daughter predicted it was a type of cold soup; our son guessed it was a geological formation and we, well, weren't ready to admit a total and complete blank as to both its definition and its spelling. (As it turns out, ursprache is a noun and defined as a language that is the hypothetical ancestor of another language). Our family had a grand time guessing at meanings and attempting their spellings along with the young contestants. This year, we're setting our TIVO for the early rounds on ESPN, but are planning on some cozy couch time for the final rounds on ABC this Thursday night. With some prospicience (act of looking forward, 2002), your family will enjoy a fun night matching wits with expert spellers -- we promise, your kids will have no logorrhea (endless chatter, 1999), or pococurante (apathetic, 2003) attitudes.
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The 80th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee
FINALS: Thursday, May 31, 8 - 10 pm EST LIVE on ABC
PRELIMINARY ROUNDS: Thursday, May 31, 10 am - 1 pm EST on ESPN
Check your local listings for schedules: Remember that the times above are for the East Coast! When we looked up the Bee in our city, we discovered the Final Rounds at both 8 pm, as well as earlier on a local ABC affiliate.
Age Recommendation: seven and up
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