Friday, June 18, 2021

Marcus Makes a Movie

Hart, Kevin and Rodkey, Geoff. Cooper, David (illus.) Marcus Makes a Movie
June 1st 2021 by Crown Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Marcus attends an afternoon program at school while his father works, and he is struggling to find an activity to join. He's a big fan of drawing comics, but doesn't want to go to the art option and do things like origami and collage work. He ends up in the movie making program, hoping to be able to sit quietly and draw, but the exuberant college students won't let him. Not only that, but a girl who annoys him, Sierra, is in the program. The group has to vote on the movie they want to make, and Sierra, who attended a summer program on writing screenplays, has written a script for Phone Zombies. Marcus counters with his own idea to spite her, but doesn't have an actual screenplay for his superhero action comic, Toothpick, just his comic book. He's angry when his idea loses, but Sierra makes an effort to reach out, mend fences, and offer to help him with his film if he helps with hers. Marcus has recently experienced a serious loss, and some of his comic deals with this, although we don't find out all of the details until late in the story. Marcus learns a lot about film making and cooperating with others, and continues to work on Toothpick. 
Strengths: I loved that this showed how much work it takes to make a film! There is one student who is in the program to improve her MeTube channel on makeup, and even that is seriously discussed. So many of my students want to be YouTube stars but have no real concept of what this would entail. Sierra is a fantastic character who is extremely understanding and works well with everyone, and it's great to see her take Marcus under her wing not only in regards to film making, but in interacting with others. I loved the portrayal of an after school program, and there are plenty of supportive people in Marcus' life to help him with his loss, including his father, who is supportive of Marcus' creative endeavors. The occasional illustrations will help this appeal to readers of notebook novels. The use of casual register is noticeable but done in a natural way; this is no small feat. 
Weaknesses: The frequent self-referential nods to "Tevin Bart", as well as mentions of MeTube seemed odd to me, but younger readers will likely not notice. Marcus also started out as an angry, unlikeable character with some behavior issues, but we find out the reasons for this, and he does improve. 
What I really think: This is an interesting and informative look at the ins and outs of making a film from people who have been through the process. Similar to Greenwald's Pete Milano's Guide to Being a Movie Star, but I liked that it was centered around an after school program instead of a film with celebrities. Definitely purchasing, although Rodkey's We're Not From Here was SO good that I wish he would write more books like that. I'm not sure how many of my students are familiar with Kevin Hart as an actor, but this book stands alone without that knowledge. 

1 comment:

  1. This does sound fun but I am distressed I had to look up "casual register" and now feel old!