by Sam Juliano
The story of how the Pilgrims traveled to America on the Mayflower usually commands a full chapter in all middle school history textbooks. It is one of the most celebrated events in the nation’s history, certainly commanding the same kind of reverence as the arrival of Columbus, the Declaration of Independence and Lincoln’s assassination. Yet the documentary feel of the subject often leaves students either bored or indifferent to the fundamentals involving a trip across the Atlantic by people, who, by their very nature quietly committed to the task at hand, rather than moving forward with an adventurous spirit. As a result texts usually stay clear of the humanity behind this monumental venture, in favor of a timeline narrative. Ironically a non-American, Mark Greenwood, who hails and resides in western Australia, has engagingly examined the pulse of the 102 Puritans who in 1620 decided to defy the edicts of the King of England and find a place where they could worship without scrutiny. In the new picture book release aptly titled The Mayflower, Greenwood has collaborated again with his erstwhile artist and wife Frane Lessac to bring a timeworn story to life with the deft fusion of concise and kid-friendly prose with wholly exquisite folksy art negotiated in gouache. Continue Reading »
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In 1998, 22 year-old Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, beaten, and tied to a fence on a Wyoming prairie and left to die because he was gay. His death a week later incited outrage worldwide, and he is now a public symbol of prejudice and intolerance. A wrenching documentary by Michele Josue was the closing feature at the NYDC Festival, and Shepard’s parents Judy and Dennis were there to offer a Q & A. They are pictured here flanking my 12 year-old son Jeremy, and our friend Broadway Bob Eagleson. Lucille, Jeremy, Bob and I attended the screening of the film Thursday.
by Sam Juliano
Turkey Day is upon us, though some of our friends in the midwest are mired in high inch snow totals. Winter may be a month away, but it has made some unwelcome early appearances around the nation. In any event the staff here at Wonders in the Dark would like to wish all our friends and associates a wonderful holiday. For the 22nd year consecutively our own family will be traveling up to Butler, New Jersey, the home of Lucille’s sister and her family. The gathering up there totals about 60 people, but the house is practically mansion-size.
Posts at the site for the coming months are pretty much set–Jim Clark’s superlative film essays every other Wednesday, a continuing roll out of the Allan Fish Bonanza Encore Series and the Caldecott Contender picture book series until the awards are announced around mid-January. The next film countdown is tentatively planned for May of 2015 -Greatest/Favorite Films About Childhood – but we have a long way to go and won’t be even dealing with ballots until late March.
As December approaches we can expect all the critics’ ten-best lists, year-end awards and some long-awaited prestigious hits set to open in theaters. I have been keeping abreast of the openings and have accelerated my movie-going pace. Continue Reading »
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