While I like to track and predict the winners and losers at the box-office each weekend with the best of the Hollywood bunch, rarely do I ultimately care who ends up on top. But this past weekend's $13 million-plus performance of Nim's Island was especially great because it means many young girls just got a new hero. And Abigail Breslin's Nim is a role model they should see more of in films, and the kind I used to see growing up with my favorite hero: Pippi Longstocking.
Nim and Pippi have lots in common. Both are feisty girls, motherless, with fathers who have enough confidence in them to leave them unattended while they, themselves, are out at sea. Both girls have animals as best friends instead of humans, and their schooling comes from outside the classroom.
And both (at least in the 1988 feature film The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking) must save their home from destruction by evil capitalists with dollar signs in their eyes. (C'mon, it wouldn't be a movie without that plot twist!)
The bottom line is, both characters are funny, fearless, strong-willed and independent minded girls, the kinds that deserve to be looked up to. The kind you should introduce to your daughters before their brains are invaded by those helpless princesses who don't feel complete unless there is a strong and handsome prince involved.
But who needs a prince when you have Nim or Pippi around? The other night I was reading my four year old a bedtime book about a princess captured by a witch who hid her up in a tower. "Why can't she just she just climb out the window to escape?" my daughter asked. "Because the tower is so high up, she would fall down and hurt herself. It's not safe," I answered.
"Why doesn't she just walk down the wall, like Pippi? Pippi does that all the time."
She was right. Pippi does walk down the side of walls and would do it in heartbeat if ever captured by a witch. A princess would wait for her prince to rescue her, but Pippi would never dare to think such a thing. And neither would Nim as she climbs up a volcano, swims on the back of a sea lion, scales her roof to an electrical problem and creates innovative slingshots (bearded dragons instead of rocks) to ward off invaders.
And unlike those pesky princesses Pippi and Nim are not interested in boys. Except for one - their daddies. Their only "prince charming."
And so my husband is taking my little Kit to see Nim's Island this week. And I am going back to my childhood in search of other feisty girls to which I can acquaint her with. Perhaps that spunky, curly-haired mop-top Little Orphan Annie. Another left-on-her-own girl with a dog as her best friend, who thwarts the greedy trio of Miss Hannigan, Rooster and Lilly St. Regis and then finds love from her newfound father, Daddy Warbucks.
Fun, Fearless Females - I know it's the name of Cosmo Magazine's yearly tribute to select women around the country every year. But I say those most deserving of the moniker for our daughters are Pippi, Annie and now, Nim.