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

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. 1, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011


In no particular order and using no set criteria for his selections, veteran sportscaster Berman pays tribute to an arbitrary gallery of baseball stars—all familiar names and, except for the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez, retired from play for decades. Repeatedly taking the stance that statistics are just numbers but then reeling off batting averages, home-run totals, wins (for pitchers) and other data as evidence of greatness, he offers career highlights in a folksy narrative surrounded by photos, side comments and baseball-card–style notes in side boxes. Readers had best come to this with some prior knowledge, since he casually drops terms like “slugging percentage,” “dead ball era” and “barnstorming” without explanation and also presents a notably superficial picture of baseball’s history—placing the sport’s “first half-century” almost entirely in the 1900s, for instance, and condescendingly noting that Jackie Robinson’s skill led Branch Rickey to decide that he “was worthy of becoming the first black player to play in the majors.” The awesome feats of Ruth, Mantle, the Gibsons Bob and Josh, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb and the rest are always worth a recap—but this one’s strictly minor league. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4022-3886-4

Page Count: 138

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010


From the Epic Adventure series

In a helter-skelter scrapbook format, Cleare, a veteran mountaineer, profiles five of the world’s most renowned mountains—K2, the Eiger, the Matterhorn, Everest and Mount McKinley—and identifies some of the major historical expeditions to their summits. Top-to-bottom views of each peak are provided via single, double or (for Everest) wall-poster-sized triple foldouts. Along with those, dozens of smaller captioned photos, maps, images or realistic reconstructions depict noted climbers of the past, local wildlife, old- and new-style climbing gear, wind and weather patterns, climbers’ camps, glaciers and rugged landscapes. Likewise, each peak receives an introductory passage of dramatic prose (“Mount McKinley is a colossal, icy complex of ridges, spurs, buttresses, and hanging glaciers,” forming “a crucible of particularly evil weather”). This is accompanied by assemblages of captions and commentary in smaller type that detail its challenges and the often-unhappy history of climbers who faced them. The level of detail is specific enough to include views and comparisons of the actual routes up each mountain, and readers are expected to be clear on the difference between a cirque and a serac, or a “technical” and a “nontechnical” climb. Armchair climbers who can weather the random-feeling arrangement of pictures and the overall absence of narrative flow are in for thrills. (Informational browsing item. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7534-6573-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

Close Quickview