February 25, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Long Way North | SLJ DVD Review

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redstarLong Way North. 81 min. Dist. by Shout! Kids Factory. 2016. $16.99 UPC 0826663172027. Blu-ray $22.99 UPC 0826663172034.

DVD-LongWayNorthGr 5 Up –Viewers are introduced to 15-year-old Sacha as she explores her lavish Russian home and dances with a prince at a ball. This lovely animated film quickly reveals that Sacha Tchernetsov is no princess wannabe, but a strong-minded adventurer. She feels kinship with her explorer grandfather, who disappeared while seeking the North Pole. When she finds his notes in the family library, Sacha is sure she can locate his missing ship. Traveling on horseback and by train, she arrives at a fog-shrouded dock. Sacha won’t take no for an answer, and among the crew, she proves herself equal to every challenge that comes her way. Director and animator Rémi Chayé and screenwriter Claire Paoletti create a heroine who has a navigator’s mind and an explorer’s heart. The animation uses large blocks of richly toned, muted colors without much detail. The indoor scenes are often beautifully dark and murky, with only Sacha’s blonde hair to lighten things up. In the snow-covered north, opaque fields of whites, blues, and grays give a gorgeous old-world feel, appropriate to the 1880s setting. Middle school teachers could pair this film with nonfiction books such as Martin Sandler’s The Impossible Rescue and Jennifer Armstrong’s Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World. VERDICT The distinctive animation style may not draw in every viewer, but the adventurous plot, visual humor, and saturated colors should hold the attention of most. The film does not lend itself to direct curricular tie-ins but is worthy of viewing for enrichment or for discussion of grit, bravery, and perseverance.–Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX

This review was published in the School Library Journal February 2017 issue.

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