Friday, April 1, 2011

Review of Zeezok Movie Guide - Les Miserables

I've always associated Zeezok with its Presidential Penmanship series, a handwriting program I have always coveted.  When I had the opportunity to review a Zeezok product, then, I was very excited! In exchange for my review, I was provided with one of Zeezok's new movie guides - Les Miserables.

Les Miserables has long been one of my favorite books, and my children know the songs from the Broadway play from hearing me sing them! Zeezok's Z-guides to the Movies turn a movie into a lesson, complete with lesson plans! My 35 page movie guide breaks down as follows:

  • A thorough synopsis of the movie (*very* thorough)
  • Movie Review Questions (25)
  • Activity which places the student in a psychologist's place analyzing Javert
  • Tracing the chain of a random act of kindness from the movie in order to see its ripple effect
  • Thought-provoking questions about the relationship of parents and children through the story of Cosette and Valjean
  • Questions requiring a student to examine the political climate of France at this time
  • A pro/con chart to fill out to decide if the student would spare Javert's life in Valjean's place
  • A crossword puzzle
  • Designing a wanted poster for Valjean
  • A worldview activity asking students to consider whether people can change by using the example of Valjean
  • An examination of literary devices like foreshadowing and irony in the film
  • Family discussion questions that truly are thought provoking
  • Further resources - a reference to the book by Victor Hugo
  • An in-depth answer key
I really liked this movie guide.  From the outset, it asks parents and students to consider the themes of the movie, in this case love, forgiveness, mercy, the consequences of a vengeful spirit, random acts of kindness and parenting.  Knowing from the beginning that these topics will be ones the movie addresses helps in watching the movie with a certain awareness that might otherwise be absent.  Les Miserables is one of those films that covers so much emotional and moral ground that having a movie guide is almost essential if one wants to make sure that her child gets the most possible out of the movie.  Further, the movie follows the book closely enough that this guide would be very useful as a very broad literature guide for the book.  

Zeezok's movie guides will fill a much-needed niche in the homeschool world (and should be very useful to school teachers as well).  While in a perfect world, everyone would read the book, the fact is that not all parents feel up to teaching a book as weighty and meaty as Les Mis to their kids.  In cases like this, then, watching the movie thoughtfully and with a genuine awareness can provide a substitution.  In any case, it will allow both parents and children to be able to join "the great conversation" of western civilization.  The fact is that the story of Les Mis is embedded in our culture.  Knowing that story is a part of a true liberal arts education.  Also, having watched the movie and completed this movie guide, both parents and children may feel up to the challenge of the book.  My daughter can't wait to read it!

Zeezok's movie guides cost $12.99 and are worth the price.  I have read Les Mis and had seen the movie, and I was very glad to have the guide as a teaching aid for my daughter.  For parents not familiar with a story, the teaching guide will prove invaluable.  Zeezok's guides are assigned a typical age level (high school for this one), but, as always, a parent is the best judge of what is appropriate for her child.

I love Zeezok's new movie guides; they are a worthy addition to its preeminent educational materials.  To find out what other Crew members thought, visit the Crew blog.

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