Making the Grades
Ten-year-old Jess Cameron (Jennifer Pisana) is heartbroken when her best friend Bobby moves away. Relegating herself to the bedroom and hours of abject misery, she refuses to even go sledding, her all-time favorite activity.
As time passes, her parents begin to worry. Deciding the best medicine for Jess's ailment is a visit from their eccentric Aunt Millie (Brenda Blethyn), Mom and Dad call up the world-traveling relative and invite her for Christmas.
Stampeding up the front steps with piles of luggage in tow, Aunt Millie is a welcome sight for everyone. With open arms, she comforts her little niece and then proceeds to tell her a magical story about a young ice skater and a gifted reindeer from Santa's herd.
Years earlier, a young girl named Katie Andrews (Zoe Warner) wanted to learn to ice-skate more than anything. Struggling on a pair of worn out hand-me-downs from her older brothers, she is spotted on the local outdoor rink by former Olympian Otto Brewer. He offers to give her lessons on the condition that she gets a pair of figure skates. Under his watchful eye, Katie's talent begins to blossom.
But layoffs at her father's factory force the family to pack up and move to the city. Now the only ice available is at an exclusive indoor rink where just members can skate. Mocked by the club's reigning city champion Erin Scott-Pierce (Brittany Bristow), Katie longs to be back on the ice in her little hometown.
Meanwhile, a young reindeer at the North Pole is learning to fly. Endowed with three extraordinary abilities, Blizzard (voiced by Whoopie Goldberg) is able to visualize the sad child hundreds of miles away. But leaving Santa's (Christopher Plummer) enchanted village and going to Katie's aid will mean breaking nearly every one of the elf and reindeer rules. Facing the threat of banishment by the rigid, regulation enforcer, Archimedes (Kevin Pollak), Blizzard and her elf friend Jeremy (Jonathan Wilson) strike out to bring the gift of friendship and self-belief to one unhappy little girl.
Maybe LeVar Burton can credit his skill as a first-time film director to his eighteen years of experience as host and co-executive producer on the children's program Reading Rainbow, his involvement in the epic movie Roots or his ongoing role in the Star Trek flicks. But regardless of where it came from, his talent in creating a children's story is evident.
Depicting the emotions of a 10-year-old, that swing from angst to complete euphoria in a moment, Blizzard will surely resonate as a family classic with any kid who's had to move or lost a friend.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Blizzard.
What are some ways Jess and her friend Bobby could have kept in touch after he moved? Do you think Bobby might have been having a hard time adjusting to his new neighborhood? How could you befriend a new person in your community?
Are rules important? How did Santa feel about Blizzards excuse for breaking the rules? What did Blizzard learn about keeping rules?
Why was the city champions father so concerned about her winning the club competition? How did the film contrast Katie and Erins fathers? Are only ?rich? fathers obsessed with their childrens success?