Action! How Movies Began by Meghan McCarthy

Published by Simon and Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books

Summary:  This whirlwind tour of the movie industry faithfully reproduces scenes from a huge variety of films, including Saturday Night Fever, The Gold Rush, Nosferatu, Star Wars, and many, many more.  There’s a quick history of various film technologies that led to silent movies and then talkies.  The influence of one film upon others is shown through the illustrations, most fascinatingly with Metropolis.  Racism is briefly touched upon, showing how it affected Josephine Baker’s career, and comparing this with a scene from Black Panther, a blockbuster with an all-Black cast.  “Movies will continue to inspire us for generations to come,” McCarthy concludes, “and we have all the inventors, actors, writers, and directors to thank.”  Includes additional information about the MGM lion, female film editors, the beginnings of Hollywood, the disappearance of Louis Le Prince (which could be a whole book itself), makeup in the silent era; also a bibliography of books, websites, and other sources.  48 pages; grades 2-7.

Pros:  I know this probably sounds like a random mishmash of information, but somehow Meghan McCarthy makes it work as a fascinating read, and the illustrations are phenomenal.  All the characters have her trademark bug-eyed expressions, but they are amazing renditions of so many famous scenes from film history.  If I were on the Caldecott committee, I’d give this a close look.  

Cons:  If you’re a Thomas Edison fan, prepare to be disillusioned.

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