Lights! Camera! Alice!: The Thrilling True Adventures of the First Woman Filmmaker

illus. by Simona Ciraolo. 60p. bibliog. Chronicle. Sept. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781452141343.
OrangeReviewStarK-Gr 4—As YouTube and Netflix continue to shape how we tell stories, young students will be delighted to find a filmmaking trailblazer in Rockliff and Ciraolo's delightful picture book about Alice Guy-Blanché. As an assistant in a camera shop, story-loving Guy-Blanché saw a unique opportunity to help sell a new-fangled product: the moving-picture camera. Rather than document life, Guy-Blanché reimagined it by using film to tell stories and to further innovate techniques in special effects, color, and sound. The potentially grim story of a qualified and talented women being squeezed out by men as the film industry consolidated is balanced by buoyant text and lively illustrations. Rockliff's alternating smooth and staccato prose mirrors a movie-watching experience by soothing and jolting readers every few moments. Ciraolo's engaging illustrations complement their subject matter. Title cards—taken from Guy-Blanché's films—divide the stages of her life, and the arrangement of the illustrations mimics stills, storyboards, and cinematographic shots. The book ends on an open, uncertain note, wherein the intrepid filmmaker boldly writes a memoir she's not sure anyone will read. Thankfully, an afterword provides additional historical context about the "rediscovery" of Alice Guy-Blanché during her later life. A bibliography directs curious readers towards further discovery.
VERDICT Subtly STEM, fun, and beautiful to look at, this take on Alice Guy-Blanché's life encourages kids to engage with cutting-edge technology and to innovate in new fields. A winning addition to most collections.

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