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Lessons from 5 Beloved Children’s Book and Film Characters

By Cath Kidston

Do you remember reading Winnie-the-Pooh cradled in your mum’s lap and flickering through the colourful pages with astute childish curiosity? Winnie-the-Pooh alongside a plethora of timeless children’s books and films bring a sense of nostalgia to our everyday lives.

With eyes of wonder, we absorb the enchanting personalities of our beloved film and book characters. They’re our teachers, our role models, and our door to a world of imagination.

Here are five beloved children’s characters from film and literature that have stood the test of time.

Matilda Wormwood, Roald Dahl

Matilda, the eponymous young hero in Roald Dahl’s tale, is the ultimate role model for little girls. She is kind-hearted, intelligent, brave, and gifted. Matilda possesses the incredible ability to move objects using only her eyes. But her 5-year-old superpowers remain unnoticed by all the important adult figures in her life: her dad, who is a car salesman; her mum, who loves the bingo; and her cruel headmistress Ms Trunchbull, who is an ex-Olympic hammer-throwing champion.

Matilda’s fate takes a different direction when she meets the beloved Miss Honey who recognises the girl’s bright and kind nature. Miss Honey helps her harness her superpower and set things right in this unfair world.

The story of Matilda has travelled through the decades since its publication in 1988, and its touch of magic empowers children up to this date. The book was also adapted into a movie in 1996, and a new version is in the pipeline, set to be released in 2022.

Hermione Granger, J. K. Rowling

What’s not to love about Hermione? Featuring in the Harry Potter series, she’s witty, enchanting, and a true friend. Beloved by both boys and girls, Hermione charms with her childhood innocence fused with her astonishing magical superpowers.

Hermione is also a heroine to look up to. Her impeccable intelligence is a tool as powerful as her magic wand, and it always comes in handy at the right time. She’s saved her friends on multiple occasions, but her most awe-inspiring act of bravery was when she saved her parents.

Little did J. K. Rowling know what an epic female character she was writing into existence when her book finally got published in 1997 after several rejections. There are no words to describe the affection children have shown towards Hermione and the rest of the Harry Potter characters, both in the books and the films. The love towards Hermione Granger is manifested in an array of children’s keepsakes, such as kids pyjamas, school bags, and homeware. They serve as a gentle inspiration to follow in the magical footsteps of Hermione's heroism through the day.

Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie

Imagine a childhood that never ends. Well, Scottish novelist J. M. Barrie fully realised his longing for an eternal childhood through the fictional character Peter Pan. The young boy who never grows up and can fly first appeared in the author’s book The Little White Bird in 1902 and has since made beloved appearances in a series of books, plays, and films.

Peter Pan is the leader of his gang, the Lost Boys, in Neverland, the island of endless play and fairies’ mischiefs. There, he can practise an array of abilities, including mimicry and sword-fighting. Through his impeccable hearing and vision, he can sense incoming danger and can also imagine things into existence.

The young boy enlivens Neverland every time he goes back there. He is an elucidation of pure, never-ending youth, unburdened by the constructs of society and adulthood. His free spirit is beyond contagious for all the young souls in the world.

Alice Liddell, Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland literally takes us down the rabbit hole, on a journey through child-like naivety, chance encounters, enchanted forests, and many lessons learnt.

Through the lens of the author’s vast imagination and the fusion of characters, Lewis Carroll portrays the main character, Alice Liddell, in a mystifying fashion. At first, Alice is depicted as a curious but stubborn little girl who grows as the books unfold not only in size but also in character. By the end of the second book Through the Looking Glass, she becomes a mature, well-rounded, and astute girl, which can only be achieved through the adventures of the imagination.

The all-time favourite children and adult’s fictional character has since inspired an array of film adaptations, exhibitions, and many other art forms that appraise her perplexed yet charming personality.

Winnie-the-Pooh, A. A. Milne

The cute yellow cuddly bear has been an all-time favourite since its creation in 1926. But the story of Pooh’s adventures really made its fans’ hearts skip a beat after the release of the film Goodbye Christopher Robin in 2017. The film narrates the real-life story of Winnie-the-Pooh’s creation, which was inspired by the toys of Christopher Robin, A. A. Milne’s son.

Taking after its real-life muse, Winnie-the-Pooh is an adorable, kind, and intelligent bear who is, above all, a trusted friend. Although slow-witted, Pooh is a source of endless wisdom for both adults and children. He conveys his insightfulness through the means of poetry – his shining talent. Hence, the book often features Pooh’s poems and “hums”.

As the wise yellow bear says: “You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

We’ve all learnt a thing or two from our beloved children’s film and book characters. They will stay in our hearts and minds forever, and it’s our responsibility to pass on their magic to the next generation!