Marketing froth, mostly, but with tidbits for budding fans of cinema's history.

THE HUGO MOVIE COMPANION

A BEHIND THE SCENES LOOK AT HOW A BELOVED BOOK BECAME A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE

Timed just to precede the scheduled release of the film version of Selznick’s Caldecott-winner, a chubby compendium of stills interspersed with background notes and interviews.

Easy-to-digest single spreads of narrative text are embedded in color photos of sets, cast members and crew (plus occasional illustrations from the original book for comparison) in a manner mimicking the design of the original. Selznick opens with stage-setting comments on his characters and inspirations, then goes on to introduce 40 people involved in the project, from director Martin Scorsese to the lead and supporting actors, set designers, script writer, technical staff and even an “On Set Magician.” He, Scorsese and scholar David Serlin also tuck in capsule historical essays on Paris in 1931, automatons and early French filmmakers—particularly Georges Méliès, whose significant role in the book has evidently been even further magnified for the screen. Readers are expected to be familiar with the tale’s plot, and the interviews are threaded with bland clichés (producer Graham King was “enchanted by Brian Selznick’s book. Immediately we thought it would be a beautiful story for Martin Scorsese to create into a piece of cinema”) and name-check references to old movies. At least the photos provide a sense of how the cast and film will look, and Selznick’s account of how he unexpectedly became an extra in the final scene makes a lively closing bit.

Marketing froth, mostly, but with tidbits for budding fans of cinema's history. (place, movie and website lists, thumbnail biographies of cast and crew) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-545-33155-5

Page Count: 258

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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DANCING WHEELS

A stereotype about people with disabilities is shattered by this introduction to a dance company known as Dancing Wheels, a group composed of “sit down” and “stand-up” dancers. The story begins with Mary Fletcher-Verdi, born with spina bifida, a condition that causes weakness in the legs and spine. Mary always wanted to dance, and, encouraged by a family who focused on what she could do rather than what she couldn’t, she studied the art and eventually formed a mixed company, some who dance on their legs, and some who dance in wheelchairs. What she accomplished can be seen in this photo journal of the group’s dance workshop in which beginners and experienced dancers study and rehearse. Along the way, McMahon (One Belfast Boy, 1999, etc.) intersperses the history of the group, some details about the dancers, their families, and the rehearsal process that leads up to the final performance. Three children are featured, Jenny a wheelchair dancer, Devin, her stand-up partner, and Sabatino, the young son of Mary’s partner. The focus on these youngsters gives the reader a sense of their personalities and their lives with their families. Godt’s (Listen for the Bus, not reviewed, etc.) color photographs detail every aspect of the story and show the dancers at home and in rehearsal, interacting with each other, having fun, and finally performaning. They convey the dancer’s sense of joy as well as the commitment to the dance as an art form felt by the adult directors and teachers. An excellent book for helping children and adults expand their understanding about the abilities of the “disabled.” (Nonfiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-395-88889-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000

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Quick, bright, danceable, and splashy, if only ankle deep.

TURN IT UP!

A PITCH-PERFECT HISTORY OF MUSIC THAT ROCKED THE WORLD

A 40,000-year-long jam with an international cast of players and cultures.

The spirit of scat is definitely alive in the presentation, as each single-topic spread tosses together a busy collage of period images or photos with colored boxes filled with quick takes on a style or genre, significant instruments and technical innovations, and, for (relatively) more recent eras, select composers and performers from troubadour Castelloza to Rihanna. Moving quickly on from prehistoric bone flutes, the more-or-less chronological history focuses on the European and, later, North American scenes but does spare occasional nods for Indigenous and non-Western music. More often it lets distinctive styles from other continents take the stage—following introductions to Wagner and Puccini with a look at Asian opera, for instance, and giving Indipop, Afropop, J-pop, and K-pop quick solos of their own. Hip-hop and house music are invited to the party, but gangsta rap is not, nor is Tupac (or, for that matter, any reference to profanity, violence, or even drug or alcohol abuse). Still, themes of racial prejudice and identity do play through pages devoted to the blues, big bands, R&B, and rock-’n’-roll, and the balance of men and women artists is carefully measured from the outset. Frequent leads to relevant musical selections on the web furnish a soundtrack.

Quick, bright, danceable, and splashy, if only ankle deep. (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3541-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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