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Le Petit Nicolas

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Your children are obsessed with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series and films, and you would like them to branch out a bit more. Maybe you’re a foreign film buff and see the benefit of introducing them to a world of cinema in which the plot doesn’t revolve around buildings being blown to smithereens.

Whatever the reason, Le Petit Nicolas is a fantastically sweet French film to watch over and over with your little Francophiles. Based on the book series (which enjoys a Wimpy Kid degree of popularity over in France) the movie chronicles the adventures of sensitive Nicolas — a boy who values his friendships, loves his parents, and enjoys shaking things up once in a while. Set in the idyllic 1950s, Nicolas overhears a conversation between his parents that leads him to believe his mother is pregnant. He becomes worried his parents will forget about him, and has to overcome fear of change and the unknown. In the meantime, his parents are hard at work preparing an impressive dinner for his father’s boss, which only fuels Nicolas’ abandonment anxiety.

Of course, your children probably won’t give a flying fig about the deeper themes at play here, but they will laugh at Nicolas and his friends’ antics, and relate to his problems and concerns. Le Petit Nicolas is also a wonderful way to get kids, particularly young boys, interested in reading. Think of it as a literary gateway drug: first they’ll watch the film, then they’ll express a curiosity to read the series, and from there — James Joyce and Godard. Hey, why not?

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