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Mary Robinette Kowal – Ten Movie Moms Too Fantastic to Be True

Mother’s Day is here and lest you need reminding, none of us would exist were it not for them. Fantasy has a high incidence of orphaned characters, but once in a while mothers do show up. Here are the ten best moms a fantasy girl could ask for.

10. Mrs. Jones, Coraline (2009)
There’s a fair chance you too once shouted “You’re not my real mother!” Coraline’s (Dakota Fanning) mom (Terri Hatcher) is focused on her writing, and isn’t as attentive as the child might like. Mother eventually shows how much she cares with a carefully-timed glove purchase, and she sure wins out over the cloying affections of the Other Mother.
Con: Distracted by work
Pro: Doesn’t replace your eyes with buttons


9. Mrs. Little, Stuart Little (1999)
Maternal love is hard to define, as evidenced by Mrs. Little’s (Geena Davis) decision to adopt a mouse. She tries to make their home safe for her special needs child — after all, Stuart (Michael J. Fox) is only three and a half inches tall, so even a mundane activity like laundry is hazardous.
Con: Smothers you with love
Pro: Willing to let you take chances


8. Mrs. Bucket, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
Being a mom is a hard job, but when you’re as broke as the Buckets it’s downright depressing. Still, Mrs. Bucket (Helena Bonham Carter) manages to put a happy face on their hapless circumstances: There’s a hot meal on the table every night — even if it is always cabbage — and a candy bar for Charlie’s birthday.
Con: Ugh, cabbage
Pro: Lets you to go to Chocolate Factory, despite Mr. Wonka’s Michael Jackson-esque demeanor


7. Mrs. Grace, Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)
Mrs. Grace (Mary-Louise Parker) has a hard time believing her son’s tales of ogres and faeries. But you have to give her credit for rolling with the truth when confronted first by a troll-like brownie and then by ogres. When push comes to shove, she’s not letting anyone mess with her kids.
Con: Oversensitive BS-detector
Pro: Willing to admit mistakes


6. Tess, Freaky Friday (2003)
Some people have to grow up before they realize how similar they are to their mother. Not so with Anna (Lindsay Lohan), who swaps places with Tess (Jamie Lee Curtis). A lesser mother might have hidden at home, but Tess takes advantage of being in high school with the benefit of hindsight.
Con: Meddles in your personal life
Pro: Aces your tests for you


5. Fly, Babe (1995)
Not all good mothers are birth mothers. Fly, the sheepdog, adopts Babe as her own — even though he’s a pig. She comforts him and encourages him to follow in her pawprints, and never once tries to eat him, even though his chops are just begging for a gnosh.
Con: Wants you to do things her way
Pro: Loves you even after you steal her sheep-herding job — and do it incorrectly!


4. Mae Tuck, Tuck Everlasting (2002)
We always think of our Mothers as unchanging, but Mae (Sissy Spacek) actually is. An immortal, she’s had ninety years to practice the job — despite only seeing her sons once per decade. She may feel ambivalent about her children’s maturation, but she’s warm and generous and always lays a bountiful table.
Con: Doesn’t want you to grow up
Pro: Will actually kill for you — provided you spring her from jail


3. Anne MacMarrow, The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (2007)
Angus (Alex Etel) wants a pet. But his mother Anne (Emily Watson), raising a child alone during wartime, fears it will distract him from learning about responsibility. But when he reveals he’s been raising a magical Water Horse, she recognizes the maturity in his care for the creature.
Con: Not afraid to send you to bed — or to boot camp — without supper
Pro: Remarkably understanding when it comes to hidden sea creatures


2. Una, Stardust (2007)
The child of a single father, Tristan (Charlie Cox) leaps at a chance to meet his birth mother by traveling to a magical land. Una (Kate MacGowan) is an especially active mom: Though a slave girl, she manages to play a pivotal role in saving Tristan and helping him woo his love.
Con: Absent from your childhood
Pro: A princess in disguise


1. Molly Weasley, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Is there a more matronly figure in fantasy than jolly Mrs. Weasly? She raises a brood of children, cooks, cleans and works magic. While her kids are away, she makes sure they get packages filled with hand-knit sweaters, and she adopts Harry into the family.
Con: Sweaters! Gah!
Pro: Always ready with a heaping plate of food

Mary Robinette Kowal is the winner of the 2008 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and a professional puppeteer. Her first novel Shades of Milk and Honey is being published by Tor in 2010.

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