- Jade Pettyjohn as McKenna Brooks
- Kerris Dorsey as Josie Myers
- Ysa Penarejo as Toulane Thomas
- Nia Vardalos as Mrs. Brooks
- Kally Berard as Sierra Kuchinko
- Cathy Rigby as Isabelle Manning
- George Chiang as Mr. Wu
- Ian Ziering as Mr. Brooks
- Kadence Kendall Roach as Maisey Brooks
- Paiten Raine Roach as Mara Brooks
The beginning starts in Shooting Star Gym. McKenna Brooks is practicing her backhand spring on the beam. Coach Isabelle tells McKenna that the move she was doing is way too advanced. McKenna tries to protest. Then the coach leaves. As McKenna is feeling down, her best friend Toulane Thomas comes over and tells McKenna she was great. She then gets on about how the two of them will get into the Olympics in 2016. Toulane brags that she will be on the podium with her gold, and McKenna next to her with her silver. McKenna tells her that she will get a gold instead. The two get back to gymnastics until McKenna's grandma comes into the gym with McKenna's younger twin sisters, Maisey and Mara. The four of them leave the gym.
At home, McKenna, Maisey, Mara, and their parents are at the table and talking about Mrs. Brooks' business, and how her guitarist quit on her. Mr. Brooks tries to convince Mrs. Brooks to let his old rock band play at her coffee shop. Then, Mrs. Brooks tells Maisey and Mara to go to their room while she and Mr. Brooks talk to McKenna. When the twins leave, McKenna thinks it is about her accidentally feeding the class pet. Mr. and Mrs. Brooks explain that Mr. Wu emailed them and said that McKenna's grades were slipping and he recommended that she get a tutor because he's concerned about McKenna. Mr. and Mrs. Brooks believe that McKenna is spending too much time on gymnastics and not enough time on her school books. McKenna refuses and promises to bring her grades up as there's going to be a science quiz the next day. She starts to read the science book, but doesn't understand it and quits.
At school McKenna is desperate to improve her grades and ends up cheating off of Sierra's paper. McKenna gets caught by Mr. Wu. After Mr. Wu tells her parents McKenna's grounded and they tell her that unless she agrees to get a tutor she'll have to quit gymnastics. McKenna reluctantly meets Josie Myers at the school's library. When McKenna sees Sierra, she tries to hide. Josie doesn't understand this. After Sierra leaves, Josie tries to tutor McKenna. McKenna gets angry when she finds out Josie wants her to read "baby books". She storms out of the library and asks Mr. Wu to find her a new tutor. She tries three different tutors who won't work for her. McKenna is soon forced to go back with Josie.
At the presentation run, the Shooting Stars Gymnastics Team preform for the parents. When McKenna goes up, she does everything perfectly. She comes to the very end of her practice, and decides to disobey the coach by doing the backhand spring. As a result of her disobedience McKenna falls and breaks her ankle. When McKenna comes home, she is very angry, as her parents say that the accident will allow her focus on school now instead of gymnastics. McKenna yells at them saying they must be happy she broke her ankle, and runs into her room. She tears down most of her posters, and cries. The next day, McKenna comes to school, and Mr. Wu tells McKenna that he's sorry she got hurt and says that Josie can start tutoring sessions after school. In the end McKenna gets better grades. She goes to a regional competition to try to make the team. She and Toulane make it, but Toulane doesn't want to do it. Toulane has a talk with her mom after the competition and is allowed to do rhythmic gymnastics, and Sierra takes Toulane's place on the team with McKenna.
- Sierra is shown to have black hair in the movie, but is a redhead in the books.
- Tasha did not go to the Olympics in the books.
- In the books, Josie rides a horse named Pumpkin while in the movie, she rides Snowflake.
- Dora, Elizabeth, and other characters are not in the movie.
- Elizabeth is replaced by Sierra, who bears her intelligence. This is unlike the books, where Sierra is an average student.
- McKenna's dad was not in a band in the books.
- In the books, Coach Isabelle is implied to be college-aged (20s) and is a brunette. In the movie, she is shown to be much older (50s+) with gray hair.
- In the books, Sierra is very good at gymnastics while in the movie, she initially has a bit of trouble.
- Josie has blonde hair in the books, but has brown hair in the movie.
- Megan Murphy was never mentioned in the books and is an original character created for the movie.
- In the movie, Toulane became angry upon discovering McKenna and Josie's secret tutoring sessions and friendship after McKenna's injury. In the books, Toulane and Sierra found out about Josie tutoring McKenna before her injury and both got mad; McKenna's broken ankle helped them forgive her.
- Also in the movie, Sierra is the "new girl" who started at the gymnastics lessons recently; she and McKenna don't become friends until later on.
- In the movie, Sierra was very understanding over McKenna not speaking up about her tutor; Sierra revealed that at one point, she needed a tutor as well due to struggling in math.
- In the movie, McKenna cheated on her science test by looking at Sierra's paper until Mr. Wu catches her. In the books, McKenna had a take-home test, which she tried to get the answers to from Elizabeth's house. However, Elizabeth's mom caught her cheating, forcing McKenna to tell her parents.
- Several of Josie's reading techniques were not shown in the movie.
- In the movie, McKenna initially wanted to switch tutors because Josie had her read "baby books", but after trying three different tutors, she was soon forced to go back to Josie. This is not present in the books.
- The Shooting Stars' visit to Hearts and Horses never happens in the movie.
- In the books, McKenna's disobedience with her beam routine did not cause her fall. Instead, she was doing exactly as she should and fell by accident. Also, in the books, McKenna did not feel as if she was in "baby gymnastics".
- In the books, McKenna knew she was having trouble in school but in the movie, she did not realize she needed a tutor.
- In the movie, Toulane was upset that McKenna showed Josie their secret handshake. In the book, this never happened.
- In the books, the Brooks' camping trip to the Olympic Peninsula was spontaneous. In the movie, this is a planned annual event.
- The family's visit to the Space Needle never occurs in the movie.
- In the movie, there are three spots on the regional competitive team rather than two. Originally at the end, McKenna, Toulane, and Megan Murphy, a girl from another club, got the spots. In the book, Toulane, Sierra, and McKenna were the top three finishers at the qualifying meet.
The movie aired on NBC on July 14, 2012.
Home Video Release
The movie was released on DVD and Blu-ray on July 3, 2012, exclusively at American Girl and WalMart. It was given a wider release on February 19, 2013.
It was available as a DVD for $9.95 and as a DVD/Blu-Ray pack for $14.95. American Girl retired these in 2020.
Items Associated With the Movie
- Universal Studios Entertainment's Facebook post, accessed April 25, 2012.