Archive for July, 2008

Building a House

Thursday, July 31, 2008

By Byron Barton

Call Number: PZ9 .B37 1981

“You could almost do it yourself–by carefully noting the steps depicted in each bright, brisk, clearly delineated picture….With independently interesting pictures and a definite, sunny personality, a very fine piece of work indeed.”–Kirkus Reviews

Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest

Thursday, July 31, 2008

By Gerold McDermott

Call Number: PZ9 .N77 M33 1993

Raven, the trickster, wants to give people the gift of light. But can he find out where Sky Chief keeps it? And if he does, will he be able to escape without being discovered? His dream seems impossible, but if anyone can find a way to bring light to the world, wise and clever Raven can!

On The Day You Were Born

Thursday, July 31, 2008

By Debra Frasier

Call Number: PZ9 .F74 1991

Inspired by Debra Frasier’s enormously popular On the Day You Were Born, this charming photo journal invites families to celebrate the arrival of their loved one into the natural world. A star-spangled blue sky, crossed by a swath of sunshine yellow with gold birds, introduces the reader to “the very first day you arrived.” Baby’s picture and name go right in the middle of all the cheery yellow. Turn the page: “You were born on the round planet Earth. Was it day, or was it night?” is printed with another space for a picture and a line to write the date and time of birth against the backdrop of more starry sky with that old blue and green globe plopped in the middle and a figure of a child frolicking across the ocean. On another page, the jubilant child dances across a beach: “On the day you were born waves washed the beaches clean for your footprints. How little were your fingers? How tiny were your toes?” By adding eight photographs and filling in a few details, parents can create a very special journal for their child, rejoicing together in all the natural wonders of the universe. Here is an ideal gift for the new parents with a vibrant connection to nature.

The Way I Feel

Thursday, July 31, 2008

By Janan Cain

Call Number: PZ9 .E6 C34 2000

First-time author and artist Cain treads familiar ground here with a picture book that pales in comparison to Jamie Lee Curtis’s subtler and snappier Today I Feel Silly. From scared to shy, bored to jealous, Cain covers the emotional waterfront in a series of rhymes paired with pastel pencil drawings featuring elflike children. The opening spread, “silly” (“Silly is the way I feel when I make a funny face/ and wear a goofy, poofy hat that takes up lots of space”), casts a child in a rainbow-colored clown outfit against a sunny yellow backdrop and heralds the book’s main artistic conceit–a palette picked to suit each mood. “Bored,” for instance, is played out on a background of drab tans and browns, while “angry” steams with fiery reds and purples. Though energetic and bright, the cartoonlike illustrations skate close to being strident, while the verses are pedestrian (“Sometimes I feel so very sad and really don’t know why./ Instead of playing and having fun, I cry and cry and cry”).

The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company

Thursday, July 31, 2008

By David A. Price

Call Number: NC1766 .U52 P75 2008

The roller-coaster rags-to-riches story behind the phenomenal success of Pixar Animation Studios: the first in-depth look at the company that forever changed the film industry and the “fraternity of geeks” who shaped it.

The Pixar Touch
is a story of technical innovation that revolutionized animation, transforming hand-drawn cel animation to computer-generated 3-D graphics. It’s a triumphant business story of a company that began with a dream, remained true to the ideals of its founders—antibureaucratic and artist driven—and ended up a multibillion-dollar success.

We meet Pixar’s technical genius and founding CEO, Ed Catmull, who dreamed of becoming an animator, inspired by Disney’s Peter Pan and Pinocchio, realized he would never be good enough, and instead enrolled in the then new field of computer science at the University of Utah. It was Catmull who founded the computer graphics lab at the New York Institute of Technology and who wound up at Lucasfilm during the first Star Wars trilogy, running the computer graphics department, and found a patron in Steve Jobs, just ousted from Apple Computer, who bought Pixar for five million dollars. Catmull went on to win four Academy Awards for his technical feats and helped to create some of the key computer-generated imagery software that animators rely on today.

Price also writes about John Lasseter, who catapulted himself from unemployed animator to one of the most powerful figures in American filmmaking; animation was the only thing he ever wanted to do (he was inspired by Disney’s The Sword in the Stone), and Price’s book shows how Lasseter transformed computer animation from a novelty into an art form. The author writes as well about Steve Jobs, as volatile a figure as a Shakespearean monarch . . .

Based on interviews with dozens of insiders, The Pixar Touch examines the early wildcat years when computer animation was thought of as the lunatic fringe of the medium.

We see the studio at work today; how its writers, directors, and animators make their astonishing, and astonishingly popular, films.

The book also delves into Pixar’s corporate feuds: between Lasseter and his former champion, Jeffrey Katzenberg (A Bug’s Life vs. Antz), and between Jobs and Michael Eisner. And finally it explores Pixar’s complex relationship with the Walt Disney Company as it transformed itself from a Disney satellite into the $7.4 billion jewel in the Disney crown.