Monday, August 6, 2007

From Harry Potter to Beatrix Potter

I saw the most delightful and charming movie this weekend--Miss Potter. It tells the story of the life of Beatrix Potter. It came out in January and it seems like it went straight to DVD. I knew as soon as it came out that it wouldn't last. My one gripe is the casting of Renee Zellwegger (spelling?) as Miss Potter. I have never been a big fan of hers. The rest of the cast was wonderful and appropriately all British. Why would they cast Renee Z when there are so many british actors that could have been a much better fit. Kate Winslet immediately came to mind. That said I will grudgingly say that Renee Z put in a very good performance. The movie took some liberties but since it didn't say it was a factual biography, I guess that is just what they do.

By pure coincidence, at the same time the movie came out, a local author came out with an incredible biography of Beatrix Potter: Beatrix Potter--A Life in Nature, by Linda Lear

We have a wonderful nationally-known independent bookstore in DC called Politics and Prose. It is in an old building and when you walk around the old floorboards creak and dip throughout the store. The sales staff are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. They also have author readings that are broadcast on C-Span. I'm very lucky to live about 10 minutes from the store. I went to three different author talks in a span of two weeks in January and one was Linda Lear talking about researching for her book. Beatrix Potter was truly a remarkable woman. She was a naturalist and an enviromentalist without any formal education. She didn't just draw and paint cute bunnies, ducks, and hedgehogs. She painted and studied all manner of flora and fauna of the english countryside. She was also a feminist and didn't marry until her 40s. Then, as most know, she bought up many farms in the Lake District that were being parceled off for development and kept them as working farms and bequeathed them to the english trust for historic preservation (I'm not sure if that is the actually name of the organization).

I bought the book after the author's reading January and started it but work got in the way. I've just now picked it up again and highly recommend it.


KGMom said...

What a neat connection--Potter to Potter!
I have not seen the Beatrix Potter movie, but I always loved her stories. While they are children's stories, they are so charming that they appeal to all ages.

possumlady said...

It's interesting. I don't remember the stories growing up but I do love them now.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

If you're interested in children's storeis, with an ecological background, have you tried any of Thornton Burgess? (they're OLD)
I read the series to my girls when they were little--to this day, we still refer to animals around our home as Sammy Jay or Johnny Chuck.
Loveable characters based upon real facts. A great way to introduce nature to children.