Zootopia: This spunky 3-D animated film stars a bunny with big dreams. While still in school, Judy Hopps displays empathy and kindness when she springs into action against a bully. She surprises her parents by announcing she wants to go to the city and become a cop. There, despite graduating at the top of her class, she is assigned to handing out parking tickets. Her big break comes when she works on a case of missing mammals.
The residents of Zootopia have transcended the divisive roles of predator and prey. These animals act like humans, and it’s easy to see that Judy is given short shrift because she is female. But none of that really matters since she believes in herself. We enjoyed seeing how Judy’s optimism propels her through every situation. We also admire her idealism. She steadfastly believes that different groups can and must live together in peace—a good message for our times (Walt Disney, PG—some thematic elements, rude humor and action).
A Faithful Farewell: Living Your Last Chapter with Love
By Marilyn Chandler McEntyre
Marilyn Chandler McEntyre is professor of medical humanities at the University of California—Berkeley and a longtime hospice volunteer. In this collection of 52 short passages and prayers, she reflects upon the challenges, uncertainties and surprises of the final lap in our journey of life. She covers such important things as losing control, privacy, pain, clinical encounters, boredom, other people’s fear, ceremony, listening and much more.
For example, in one selection she acknowledges that many people feel ashamed when they have to ask for help as they age. Writing in the first person, she notes: “The Amish teach that the sick, the elderly, and the dying are gifts to the community because of the love and care they bring forth. That’s a beautiful and generous way to think about what my ‘contribution’ may be now to a community in which I used to be much more ‘useful.’ Allowing others to be generous and tender, giving them occasion for the sacrifices of time and energy that deepen their investment in my life, may seem like a necessary evil, but perhaps it’s a necessary good. I am still a participant” (Eerdman’s Publishing Group)
I Am a Bear
By Jean-Francois Dumont
This book is designed for ages 4 to 8, but we think people of all ages will find it thought-provoking and inspiring. Anyone who lives in or visits a city is bound to notice homeless people. This book gives them a way to talk about that experience and consider how they might respond.
Bear lives on the street. He doesn’t remember how or why he got there. He sleeps on cardboard boxes, people chase him away or they don’t pay him any attention at all. Until one day a little girl talks with him. To his delight, she returns in the following days, making his life brighter (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers).