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Mary Katherine, aka M.K., has a dad who is a bit different from most dads: Bomba is a scientist that believes in a tiny race of people who live in the forest. His obsession to prove his theory has driven away everyone in his life, including his wife and daughter. After the death of her mother, a teenage M.K. returns to her estranged father’s home in the forest. Wanting a fresh start with her dad, she hopes to convince him to end his obsession and be just like any other dad. Although he truly wants his daughter’s approval, Bomba cannot resist the forest’s pull and his belief in his own theory. Giving up her attempt at changing her father, M.K. makes to leave him again, but is pulled into the forest’s tiny world. The forest’s Queen Tara has been mortally wounded by Boggins, creators of rot. She needs a protector for the forest’s future, a tiny pod containing the forest’s healing powers that is the queen’s only heir. M.K. unknowingly stumbles into the queen’s presence and is shrunken down to her size, and the pod is left in her care. Queen Tara’s army, the Leafmen, arrive on the scene too late to save their beloved queen, and take the confused teenager to the forest’s keeper of knowledge, Nim Galuu. Meanwhile, the leader of the Boggin army has his own plans for the pod: if it blooms in darkness rather than light, there will be no healing powers to undo his rot in the forest, and will have the power to destroy all. M.K. must somehow discover the part that she is to play in saving both the forest, and her own world.
M.K. is a typical teenager who wants a normal life, and to fit in with everyone else. It distresses her to have a father who doesn’t fit into the norm. He is a scientist who has a theory that he can’t seem to convince others to have faith in, even though it is his passion. A person’s passions are a big part of who they are, and it is natural for one to try to convince others to accept their passions, as a path towards accepting them.
This movie helps kids to see that the people you may think of as “weird” may just be people we don’t know enough about to really understand them. You may think that you know someone well enough, and that you understand them just fine, but you may need to dig even deeper. Parents can be deeply affected by abandonment and loss, just like children. They feel the pain of ridicule as well, though this can often be difficult for their children to comprehend. Children tend to see their parents as powerful people, therefore, beyond the reaches of pain. But, parents are human beings, like any other. Helping others through their pain often results in helping yourself. By seeing another point of view, you are better able to understand, and your own anger or pain can be lessened.
There is also a scientific aspect to this film. It helps to introduce the concept that everything is connected in this world, and each small part of an ecosystem needs to be protected in order for the ecosystem as a whole to survive. There are things in nature that are too small to see, but they are still a very important part of the environment. Keeping nature in balance is everyone’s responsibility, for we are all affected.
(If you have additional ideas on how this film can be used for educational purposes, please let us know in the comments below.)
M.K.: My dad always told me stories about a hidden world. Where brave warriors watch over and protect us.
M.K.’s Dad, Bomba: Just because you haven’t seen something doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Queen Tara: You’re here for a reason. Sometimes the connections aren’t clear, but they’re always there.
Ronin: Many leaves, one tree. We’re all individuals, but we’re still connected. No one’s alone.
Nim Galuu: The scrolls don’t tell us the future, they only guide us with the knowledge of the past.