SILENT MOVIE by Avi

SILENT MOVIE

by , illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 7

KIRKUS REVIEW

An ambitious and largely successful attempt to capture the magic of silent movies in picture-book format. Glossy, black-and-white ink drawings are boxed and surrounded by solid black space to create the feeling of film screens in a darkened theater, and the text’s brevity evokes silent movie captions: “Crowded—for three long weeks,” or “A little money at last.” The story is of a Swedish family’s immigration to New York in 1909; at first, details are realistic: the ship is crowded, family members have difficulty finding each other in the big city, and money and food are scarce. However, events soon take a dramatic turn when young Gustave is discovered by a famous movie director and chosen as the newest child star. His inability to speak English doesn’t matter because the movies are silent, and by the end he is earning the enormous sum of $100 per week. Gustave’s new career also reunites the family: Papa, who couldn’t locate his wife and son when their ship docked, sees Gustave on screen and comes running to the studio. Large pictures show dramatic moments while smaller sequential ones show speed and action. At the end, Mama, Papa, and Gustave pose in expensive clothing over the caption “The new American family,” romanticizing the immigrant experience. Arresting illustrations and, except for the extreme financial success at the end that is atypical of silent movie endings, a compelling homage to a beloved art form. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-689-84145-0
Page count: 48pp
Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2003




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