________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 7. . . .October 18, 2013

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Big Mouth.

Andrea Dorfman (Director). Annette Clarke (Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2013.
8 min., 16 sec., DVD, $34.95 (school price).
Order Number: 153C9912571

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.

**** /4

 

Young children donít understand that pointing out physical flaws can be hurtful. Tact is a learned skill, and thatís the message behind Halifax animator Andrea Dorfmanís short animation Big Mouth.

     Dorfman, a filmmaker, animator, cinematographer and artist, has produced a variety of projects, ranging from appealing animations to documentaries and feature films. She also teaches at the Nova Scotia College of Art.

     Her eight-minute video, which uses hand-drawn paper cut-outs imposed on hand-drawn water-coloured backgrounds, will hold childrenís attention. The cut-out characters, line-drawn with rounded faces and exaggerated long, narrow arms, move jerkily, just like cut-out paper puppets. Her approach creates a sense of whimsy and innocence and makes the story/poem an easy lesson. Little Trudy, who means no harm, bikes, skips and bounces through her early childhood and first days at school, a perennial smile on her face.

     It takes the kind intervention of her parents and a stranger to teach her to filter her remarks and turn her observations into compliments. The stranger, a deus ex machina, is an unusual character in this day of street-proofing children and having them be wary of any unapproved adults, but he turns out to be a good guy in this animation, just what Trudy needed to see the difference between honesty and tact.

     Big Mouth can be used to teach about the power of words, about the difficulty of adjusting to new situations, and as an example of a unique animation style.

Highly Recommended.

Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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