A brief and impressionistic-feeling introduction to one of the early stars of movie entertainment. Without Charlie Chaplin, it’s been said movies today would not exist in their current form.
His early life in England — impoverished childhood with stints in the poorhouse, early and almost accidental moments on stage illustrating to him the thrill of making people laugh — are sketched out in multimedia and papercut collages, by Caldecott-winning artist Ed Young. (Amazon reviews told me to flip through the pages to animate the Little Tramp character in the bottom right corner, in a likely homage to the “flip books” that helped to create early animation!) The book ends relatively early in his career, when he’s gone to America, been “discovered” by Hollywood filmmaker Mack Sennett, and creates his famous Little Tramp character.
I found the Afterword more interesting for its further biographical details: I see parallels to today’s multitalented artists like Lin-Manuel Miranda who are known to “do it all” in the arts business: Charlie was “Actor, writer, director, composer, songwriter, editor, producer, and distributor” — wow! If you want to see a sample of his work, see this collage on YouTube, featuring his songwriting skills in “Smile” (though sung by Nat King Cole in this video), combined with clips from his movies.
How young Charlie Chaplin taught the world to laugh (and cry)
by Gary Golio, illus. by Ed Young
New Arrivals, 2nd Floor