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    Save the Children: Julianne Moore on U.S. Poverty, Being 50, and Losing Her Mom

    Actress/author Julianne Moore puts her heart into family, career, and improving children's lives this Valentine's Day.

    The 'Freckleface Strawberry' Series

    Maybe it's because she's maintained a redhead's vigilance about the sun for most of her life, but Moore appears years younger than her age -- her skin is beautiful (she's famously sworn that she won't use Botox or go under the knife). But she's tired of talking about the looks aspect of turning 50.

    "The beauty questions are sort of tedious," she says. "It's not about the outside. The thing about 50 is that you've clearly reached a point where you have more of your life behind you than ahead of you, and that's a very different place to be in. You're thinking, 'I've done most of it.' I don't like that feeling. But it makes you evaluate your life and go, 'Am I doing what I want to do? Am I spending my time the way I want?' "

    One of the reasons Moore began writing the Freckleface Strawberry books in 2007 -- the latest one, Best Friends Forever, is the third in the series -- was to explore something new. Spun off into a popular kids' musical, the series quickly became a modern classic, beloved by parents who want to guide their kids in navigating the trauma of being "different" and learn to help themselves.

    "When I started working on the first book, my son Caleb was 7. That's the age when they really start to notice things about themselves that are different," Moore says. "He had new teeth coming in and he thought they were too big. But he was perfect! I began thinking about that, and remembered I had this awful nickname as a kid … and that's where the idea for the book came from."

    Moore says she likes the children in her books to solve their own problems. "I don't want the adults coming in and fixing things for them." In the second book, Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully, the heroine is terrified of a bigger boy and the balls he hurls during that awful recess game. "So she pretends to be a monster. She's very imaginative, and that's where she feels her own power. And then she roars at the little boy, and he's scared. He's someone who's good with physical things but not imaginary things."

    Moore confesses she still hates her freckles. "I really don't like them at all," she says. "My hair and my freckles are still the same, and I don't like them, but they're at the bottom of the list now, even though when I was 7, they were at the top. I wanted to write a book that dealt with that -- that the things that loom large in childhood and seem impossible when you're little don't necessarily go away, but you find other things that you care about more, like family." (The final image in Freckleface Strawberry is a humorous, loving take on grown-up "Freckleface," cuddling on the couch with her husband and studying her kids' skin for freckles.)

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