jeremy liked the use of dumplings

Project-based learning isn’t something you impose on kids; it’s the sea in which they swim. With three months of martial arts under her belt, Claire was mad keen to see Kung Fu Panda. So much so that she painted the panda before we went, insisted on dim sum (Aust: yum cha) for dinner, then improvised what she claimed was Chinese-sounding music during piano practice when we got home.

I had some issues with the film. The character setup was trite, especially in the opening scenes – Po wants to do kung fu you say? But his father wants him to take over the noodle shop? Pardon me while I pass out from boredom. Much worse: the other heroes resent the newcomer in their midst and insult him and are mean to him. What kind of worthless fu is that? Looks like no fu at all to me.

(On a somewhat related note, do American filmmakers really not see what they are doing when they have characters run vertically up through the debris of collapsing buildings? Or have frightened crowds flee from walls of dust? It strikes me as profoundly uncool to work out your 9/11-based traumas in such transparent ways.)

I enjoyed the film a bit more when the it managed to partially-subvert the tedious old Chosen One plot. I’m less violently allergic to Chosen Ones than I used to be, now that I have decided we are all allowed to be the Special Predestined Protagonists of our own lives. (Aren’t I generous.) But it’s a dull trope, undemocratic and unfair. I don’t appreciate heroes like Harry Potter, who are all glowy and adorable Just Because. The rest of us have to work for a living! I like stories where the plain people do the needful by dint of hard work and cooperation. Like, uh, LIFE. Or Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai. Or life.

Julia, meanwhile, is making breathtaking cognitive leaps around language. Her speech is clearer and more precise and nuanced every day, and she is on the brink of understanding the relationship between letters and words. The last couple of days it’s been all about Museum ABC. “D is for dances! E is for eggs!”

You want to know my idea of a hero? Two little girls asleep in the next room. I may still be able to bench-press both of them at once, but trust me: not a force in the ‘verse can stop them.

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