Action!: How Movies Began (Meghan McCarthy)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Action!: How Movies Began by Meghan McCarthy, an intriguing, whirlwind look into the origins of films and filmmaking.

Believe it or not, kiddos, there was a very long period of history – before the internet, television, and movies – in which human beings had no way of capturing life in motion. That is, until a wealthy former governor and a nature photographer collaborated to “film” a galloping horse. From there, innovation and inspiration went hand and hand to develop the technologies and techniques of the ever-evolving landscape of film. Camera trickery, stunts, and the introduction of sound and color changed the way movies were seen and heard, and continue to influence movies to this very day!

Fascinating. McCarthy mixes her signature pop-eyed realist art style with a breakneck jog through the earliest days of film that is highly detailed, if occasionally scattered. Beginning as a historical account, the narrative shifts to comparisons between modern-day (or at least more recent) examples, such as Buster Keaton and Tom Cruise both doing their own stunts. These comparisons work particularly well, especially how McCarthy frames them in the artwork to mirror each other. Also notable is discussion on how color, lighting, and sound design in film can make an audience feel; these technical aspects are rarely explored in children’s books. Backmatter contains several short-subject blurbs that are fascinating in their own right, such as the disappearance of Louis Le Prince. Overall, the finished product is thought-provoking, but occasionally feels discombobulated as the focus bounces from topic to topic. The length makes this a read best for older elementary or middle school readers, but JJ enjoyed the illustrations a lot. Overall, this a compelling read, especially for young film-lovers who are interested in discovering the rich, if occasionally shady, history of how it all began. Definitely worth a look, and Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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