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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

TOS Review: Zeezok Movie Z-Guide for "My Side of the Mountain"

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Jean Craighead George has written many wonderfully adventurous children's books.  My husband's fondest memories or reading in his early childhood include memories of her My Side of the Mountain trilogy.  In fact, this series made such an impression on my dear hubby that as soon as he thought Ben was old enough, he suggested we read these during our read-a-loud time each evening.

Blew my socks off!

That lady certainly does her homework, and Andy was right to suggest that we would enjoy her books! (I believe a pre-requisite for being in the Andy Cain family is that you must, to some degree, be a naturist at heart!)  My Side of the Mountain is about Sam Gribley, a teenage boy who leaves the harried life of the city to seek his grandfather's land in the Catskills.  Sam proves himself quite the survivalist, and you can't help learning a thing or two yourself from reading of his day-to-day life in the mountains- and of his friendship with Frightful, a Peregrine Falcon he trains.

Yep, right up our alley.  Soooo I was thrilled when this opportunity came to review the movie guide Zeezok has developed to go with the 1969 movie of the same name!


That's right, a movie was made of the novel in 1969 and the creators over at Zeezok have made a unit study movie guide to go along with it.  A brief description:

"This guide contains a topic overview, movie synopsis, and ten learning activities based on the film. Learn more about Henry David Thoreau and peregrine falcons. Plan your own wilderness adventure. Design a suitable shelter for living in nature. Engage the whole family with a discussion section based on the movie and the learning activities. A brief bibliography lists suggested resources for additional reading and study. You’ve always wanted to be a rugged individualist; here’s your chance to be one vicariously through Sam’s experiences in My Side of the Mountain!"

The Z-Guide comes as a printable PDF and is chock full of fabulous comprehension questions, puzzles/games, activities, and information.  Even thouh this particular guide is geared toward middle schoolers, we were able to make it work for us.

Zeezok has a ton of guides and you can find a complete list of them here.  There is quite the range from "The Hiding Place" to "Mr Smith Goes to Washington" to "Kit Kittredge" or "The Red Badge of Courage"!  All guides are $12.99.  We located our movie on Netflix, but Zeezok also sells the movies to go with the guides at a reasonable price ($12.98-$22.98).

Our opinion.....
  We enjoyed answering the questions.  Also, we like a good excuse to go on a nature work or study Thoreau!  The only obstacle that we encountered, and it is NO fault of the folks at Zeezok or the guide itself, is that the movie is nothing like the book.  This was difficult for us to get past because my children LOVE THOSE BOOKS.  The ending of the movie was VERY different from the book.  In fact (<<<<>>>>) they kill Sam's companion Frightful, who is a peregrine falcon in the movie.  Needless to say, this totally freaked my kids out!  "Momma!  How are they supposed to make The Far Side of the Mountain or Frightful's Mountain if she died???" (The sequels to My Side of the Mountain)  Also, Sam leaves the mountain and goes home in the movie, not so in the book- that's right, we wouldn't get two more books if he went home at the end of the first one!
  As I stated, these hurdles were not the fault of Zeezok and we still enjoyed learning about the things that intrigued Sam Gribley.  I may revisit this again in a few years when we study Thoreau more deeply.  The guide was actually quite fabulous if you are interested in incorporating a few movies into your lessons, which I really enjoy doing.  Everyone enjoys a good movie club!  I'm very excited about trying some of the other guides, such as Kit Kittredge and Mr Smith Goes to Washington, in the near future.

Disclaimer: I was given, free of charge, a Zeezok Z-Guide to the Movies for My Side of the Mountain in exchange for a fair and honest review.

1 comment:

snapdragon said...

Good to know!
My kiddo loves Kit Kittredge- so much so, that I bought her a used manual typewriter on craigslist so she could BE Kit...
(Next step in the transformation is to start renting out rooms in our house during this "recession".)
Thanks for the info!