Samuel Johnson once famously noted that a man who is tired of London “is tired of life.” Some of us feel the same way about children’s picture books. While it’s true that many cover familiar ground – animals, the great outdoors, adventures with family and friends – no two ever do so in quite the same way. And the best of them rediscover the world with such a fresh and inspired gaze that they turn even the most adult of us into children all over again. Some of the gems that have arrived in bookstores this season include a couple of classic winter tales, a retold Aesop’s fable, poetry about dogs, a baby penguin, and a chicken awash in blue ink.
October 12 marks the birthday of stop-motion animation pioneer Art Clokey. The creator of the iconic jade green clay humanoid, Gumby, and his faithful equine companion, Pokey, Clokey was among the very first animators to combine clay figures with stop motion, which he first did with a short film in 1953. Many animators followed in Gumby's rectangular footsteps, including "California Raisins" creator Will Vinton and "Wallace & Gromit" creator Nick Park. The 1990s saw the rise of computer generated animation, but a handful of film directors still like the unique textures and often eerie movement that stop motion offers, qualities that are on display in films such as "The Nightmare Before Christmas," "Chicken Run," "James and the Giant Peach," "Coraline," and "The Fantastic Mr. Fox." But almost all great animators got their start with short films. Here are five of our favorite stop-motion shorts.
In today's highly sexualized environment – where 5-year-olds wear padded bras – some see the toddlers-and-tiaras Disney princess craze leading to the pre-teen pursuit of "hot" looks. Do little girls become little women too soon?
Based on the popular novel by the same name, the children's horror story is chillingly rendered in 3-D.
A lively mystery about great art, a boy, and his unlikely helper.
Roald Dahl's days as a savvy British spy in wartime Washington.
For this family, choosing a book to read aloud in the car is essential.