All posts by Andrea

About Andrea

Andrea is an Information Assistant (Youth Services) at Pierre Berton Resource Library. She has worked in publishing and teaching. It may come as no surprise that she loves reading!

Watching Movies With Tweens

Cover of Queen of Katwe DVDIt’s great having kids ages 9 and 12! We’re past the carseat and stroller years, but not quite at the dating and driving stage yet. It’s truly a golden age. My two sons are capable of fixing themselves simple meals and helping around the house. They are smart and funny, and we can have really interesting conversations with them on a variety of topics (and best of all, they still want to talk to us!)

What has become more of a challenge these days is finding movies to watch together. We’ll go to the theatre for blockbusters that need to be seen on the big screen (like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them). But at home, we don’t have cable, only Netflix, and we also check out lots of DVDs from the library! The trouble is, they are too old for some movies (we passed on Trolls for instance), and too young for others, at least in my opinion (they claim they are the “only” kids in school who haven’t been allowed to watch Deadpool).

We’ve already seen the most obvious movies for kids their age (think: Marvel, Star Wars franchises, etc.), probably more than once. So lately we’ve been checking out some older films their dad and I loved as kids; some newer ones we missed when they were first released; as well as some non-Disney/Pixar animated movies. Here are some hits and misses:

Beetlejuice—This Tim Burton classic was a definite hit with both my boys. They’ve been singing the Banana Boat Song ever since.

Spirited Away—My 9 year old declared it one of his favourite movies, while my 12 year old (who I thought would appreciate it the most) found there were some plot holes that didn’t sit well with him.

My Neighbor Totoro—This is a cute movie, and probably one my boys would have loved if they’d seen it first when they were a bit younger.

Edward Scissorhands—Another hit.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles—This is an R-rated movie, mainly for a few instances of the F-word. But honestly, I’m not naïve enough to think my kids have never heard the word, so bad language isn’t really a huge concern of mine as a parent when it comes to movies. Besides, if you were Steve Martin’s character, you’d probably drop a few F-bombs too. My boys thought the movie was hilarious.

A Monster Calls—This was a very good movie, though I wasn’t prepared for what a tearjerker it is. You have been warned.

Arrival—I thought this was an excellent movie, and while I’d been advised it was fine for kids (it is), mine found it a bit slow (when I mentioned “aliens” they were probably hoping for something a little more Guardians of the Galaxy).

Ghostbusters—We all enjoyed the rebooted version in theatre last year. Not a single childhood ruined. My boys hadn’t seen the original however, so we checked it out recently. Even with the cheesy special effects, they thought it was terrific (I admit I was never a huge fan, and there are a few scenes that made me cringe while watching with kids).

Queen of Katwe—They both enjoyed this inspiring film, and I noticed they got out the chessboard more in the days after we watched it.

Of course, different families have different definitions of what is appropriate viewing for children under 13, so our choices might not be yours. But rest assured you will find a wide selection of DVDs and Blurays for all tastes at Vaughan Public Libraries. Want even more choices? Check out streaming video available via Hoopla!

A few others that are on my list of possibilities for upcoming family movie nights:

A League of the Their Own


Billy Elliot

Napoleon Dynamite

Hidden Figures

*This is an R-Rated film.


Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Author Jacqueline Woodson is best known for her award-winning books for children, including her memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming, which was a Newbery Honor book in 2015. Her latest release shares a setting with that book, and may also be inspired by some of Woodson’s childhood memories, but Another Brooklyn is fiction for adults.

Another Brooklyn Cover

August has returned home for her father’s funeral when she catches a glimpse of a face from the past on the subway. The sighting transports her memory to 1970s Brooklyn, a time and place when she and her girls–Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi–were walking the fine line between childhood and womanhood. Brooklyn is a city also in the midst of change: August doesn’t know the names of the white people moving out of her Bushwick neighborhood, but she knows their moving vans. Where the four best friends once jumped double dutch and cavorted in the spray of a fire hydrant on a hot day, they now see strung out veterans and men whose eyes linger just a little too long on their young bodies. Having moved to the city from Tennessee with her father and brother, August is waiting for her mother to join them, “tomorrow and tomorrow…”

On Goodreads, no less an author than Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist) called Another Brooklyn a “love letter to black girlhood”. Though this novel is a short read, it is a powerful one that will stay with you after you turn the last page. The writing is poetic, as befits a writer named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. If, like me, you enjoy well-written novels that examine female friendship, even if they break your heart, you will love Another Brooklyn.

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple is one of the best novels I’ve read in recent years. So I was more than a little excited to get my hands on this author’s newest book, Today Will be Different. I was not disappointed!

Today Will Be Different Cover

When Eleanor Flood wakes up, she declares that today will be different. Today, she will play with her 8 year old son, Timby. Today, she will make a point of having sex with her husband of many years, hand-surgeon-to-the-Seattle-Seahawks, Joe. Today, she will actually attend yoga, not just dress the part. Today, she will be present in the moment.

As you might imagine, today IS different—just not the way Eleanor had planned.

The book takes place over the course of that one crazy day—interspersed with some flashbacks to Eleanor’s New York City years as an animator for a hit TV show, and even some beautifully rendered pages from her WIP, a graphic novel called The Flood Girls (which was due to her publisher eight years ago…)

Where'd You Go Bernadette Cover

It all begins to unravel when the aforementioned Timby fakes sick to get out of school. Throw in a quick visit to her husband’s office, which reveals he is, unbeknownst to her, “on vacation” for the week.  Then there’s a lunch date with a former employee Eleanor had blocked from her memory; her poetry teacher’s creative crisis; and a possible concussion. And before the day is over, Eleanor will have to face up to secrets from her past, not to mention her future—once she actually finds her husband.

If you loved Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, Maria Semple’s latest is not to be missed. It’s funny and heartbreaking, ridiculous and smart, all at the same time. (And if you haven’t read Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, what are you waiting for?!)