________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV . . . . August 31, 2007



Alison Reiko Loader (Director). Paul Bellini (Writer). Michael Fukushima (Producer). David Verrall (Executive Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2006.
10 min., 57 sec., VHS or DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: 153C 9106 366.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Frank Loreto.

*** /4

In a supermarket shopping cart, a potato is talking to some grapes. The mother green grape proudly introduces her purple grape child whom she has adopted from Chile. And so begins a discussion among the following types of produce that are dropped into the basket. All is going fine until they notice that the apple is crying. She does not know where her birth mother is and would like very much to find her as Mother's Day is approaching. In trying to comfort her, each of the others has something to say about adoption and why a mother may have chosen to take this route for her baby. The grape is already a proponent of adoption and makes it clear that the arrangement with the purple grape's parents was dealt with openly and to the benefit of both families. Should the adoptee have the right to know and contact the birth mother? The turnip (rutabaga?) admits that she was made to give away her seed when she was younger and now questions her decision. The squash, though, has heard of some reunions that have not gone well. The discussion, moderated by the potato (voiced by Scott Thompson), is supportive of the apple's search. Only the mushroom is the voice of nasty dissent. "One should be able to erase mistakes," she huffs. Clearly, this is not the view of the film. No one likes the mushroom who often gets crushed by the next grocery item dropped into the cart. Her views are cruel and hurtful to the apple, who is described along with all children given up for adoption, as "this sorry reminder of [her mother's] sordid past".

     Roots is a very approachable debate on the rights of adoptees and the rights of birth mothers. No answers are given, but many views are presented by the various items of produce. Why this discussion is going on in a supermarket cart stretches one's willing disbelief somewhat, especially as none of them seem to mind that they will probably be eaten by day's end. However, that is not the real point of the film, and the animation and characterizations are enjoyable to watch. Repeated viewings will reveal many side comments that are very funny and easily missed the first time.

     Roots would be an excellent introduction to the topic of adoption. This film could be used in Family Studies, Law, Religion, Ethics or Civics classes. At just under 11 minutes, it would set the scene and leave much of the class time for a healthy discussion. One warning though: the mushroom is clearly against abortion. This view, from the cruelest of all the produce in the cart, could be seen as an attack against those who are also opposed to abortion. However, that is one brief comment and should not undermine the value of this film.


Frank Loreto is a teacher-librarian at St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School in Brampton, ON.

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