Debuted as a TV movie in July 2013
The movie combines both books. On the first day of fourth grade, Saige Copeland is disappointed to learn that due to budget cuts in the New Mexico public schools, there won't be any art classes until next year. She's also confused and a little hurt to discover that her best friend Tesssa is now close friends with Dylan, another girl in their class, and seems to have a special bond with her from music camp--one that Saige can't share. The day's not all bad, though: Saige meets Gabi, a new girl at school who loves art as much as Saige does.
After school, Saige talks to her grandmother about her day. Her grandmother encourages her to find a way to bring back art class, and secure music class for next year. Saige is happy that Tessa's on board to help out, and the two make plans to hang out. Then, when Saige is happily telling her grandmother about all this, her grandmother trips over her dog and breaks her leg.
In the hospital, Saige notices that her grandmother's room is colorless and drab--not an environment she'd want to heal in. It gives Saige an idea for a protest: a Day of Beige. Tessa, Gabi, and Dylan are on board, but maybe Dylan's a little too on board. She sort of takes over, and makes it a much bigger thing than Saige planned. Dylan's mom is a newspaper reporter, so now there's going to be a press conference. But Dylan's intensity does get the word spread quickly, and on the day of protest, nearly the whole school's in beige. The principal takes notice--especially when reporters start calling her about a press conference. She tells the students that while she agrees with their goals, they should have warned before creating such a huge event. The only bad thing about the press conference is that Saige gets overwhelmed by the attention and freezes up. Dylan ends up doing all the talking, and she's sure to give Saige credit for the idea.
While the protest goes well aside from Saige's stage fright, the principal brings up logistics. The school needs $5,000 for art. Saige's grandmother suggests she fund-raise at the Albuquerque hot air balloon festival (Albuquerque's the hot air balloon capital of the world, and Saige's father pilots one). She also says Saige should lead the parade with her horse--out in front of everyone. Normally her grandmother would do it, but with a broken leg and a broken wrist, it's just not possible. After raising only a pittance with a lemonade stand, a car wash, and a bake sale, Saige has to agree. Dylan suggests a concert, but Saige wants to be sure art is represented too. Tessa and Dylan start planning the concert, leaving Saige and Gabi to come up with something to showcase art.
Saige and Gabi meets at Saige's grandmother's...something that used to be reserved for Tessa. Things are tense at first, but the girls work it out. What really cements their friendship is her grandmother's dog knocks Saige's painting over and gets fur in it. They figure out that Saige can paint over the fur to add texture, and that gives them the idea to combine art and music in a concert. But Tessa and Dylan don't see how that's possible, and furthermore, they've already been working hard on their idea. Frustrated, Saige blows up at Dylan. After school, Saige goes to visit her grandmother, but doesn't get much comfort there. Her grandmother is giving up on her art and won't be able to watch the parade. Saige tries to encourage her to learn new art techniques--if Saige is learning to ride the horse for the parade in front of everyone and putting so much effort into saving art, why can't her grandmother try using her left hand (the right wrist is broken) for her art? All this leads to another confrontation when Saige's parents come with Gabi to watch Saige practice riding, and Saige unintentionally hurts Gabi's feelings. A heart-to-heart with her dad helps Saige figure things out.
Saige starts working on the fundraising, together with her friends. The concert idea that Tessa and Dylan had isn't working out due to Dylan's overenthusiasm, so it needs to be restarted. While Tessa sorts it out, Saige and Gabi get artistic students working on props. Saige and Dylan make up, and soon everyone's working together. The day of the festival, it's all come together. Saige's grandmother is even able to attend and watch Saige lead the parade beautifully (despite a slight hiccup when she gets overwhelmed)--and show Saige the sketches she made with her left hand.
Soon it's time for the concert, "Living Art." Using the (giant) unfinished mural Saige's grandmother was working on as a backdrop, students from Saige's school act out scenes from New Mexico's history--Tessa and Dylan in the lead. When the concert is done, they've raised just shy of $4,000--not enough. Saige speaks to the audience, speaking about how important art is to her and to other students. Her short but impassioned speech encourages enough people to donate a little more, raising the total to $5,000. The movie ends with Saige, Tessa, Gabi, and Dylan going up in a hot air balloon with a design Saige made, part of a mass of colorful balloons all over the New Mexico sky.
Some of the filming was done on location in New Mexico, and some in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The classroom has individual desks rather than table groups like in the books.
Pet peeve: people call the teacher Miss Applegate when she's Mrs. Applegate. It's just one more syllable. I'm sure they can handle one more syllable to say the teacher's name right.
Why would the teacher make a point of introducing a new student (Gabi) on the first day of class? Is she the only new student? Are the students not going to introduce themselves like in most classes?
Gabi's much more forward and bold (not in a bad way, just in a different way) than in the books. Dylan is more abrasive.
Saige wears her hair the same way her grandmother does.
I expected Tessa to have dark hair, even though in the books' illustrations she's blonde, because I know a Tessa in real life who has dark hair.
Speaking of stage fright, is there any drama or theater for the students? I didn't have a separate class for that until middle school, but my nanny charge was in a school play in fifth grade.
I don't know enough about horses to know if the horses in the movie are Spanish barbs or even look enough like them. To my very untrained eye, they do--but then again, I can only tell that they're not Clydesdales or Sheltand ponies.
Geez, Dylan's a LOT more abrasive in the movie. Back off, Dylan!
That's sweet. Saige's grandmother calls Saige her muse.
While the concert was interesting, I was disappointed that the horse show wasn't in the movie. And I'm surprised that there was no art auction like in the book; that would be an easy and logical way to raise money.
Saige Copeland - Sidney Fullmer (she was discovered at an American Girl store)
Tessa Jablonsky - Alexandra Peters
Gabi Peña - Alana Gordillo
Dylan Patterson - Mika Abdalla
David Copeland (Saige's father) - Kerr Smith
Marianan Copeland (Saige's mother) - Laurel Harris
Mimi - Jane Seymour
Luis - Omar Paz Trujillo
Principal Laird - Rebecca Gibson
Mrs. Applegate - Stephanie Sky
Pam Patterson - Kate Gajdosik
Therapist - David House
Announcer - Shawn Mondragon
Older Boy - Ethan Chernick
Photographer - Robb Moon
Parent - Karen Tusa
Parade Watcher - Maxx Wayne