Tuesday, February 16, 2010

(Motion) picture book biography

I've posted quite a bit on the art form of biography, specifically picture book biography. The gist: it's one of the most vibrant areas in modern publishing (not just children's publishing) and it's becoming more daring with each passing season.

In the 2/22/10 Newsweek, Ramin Setoodeh asks "Are Biopics History?" Online, the same article lays it out more ominously: "The Death of the Biopic." (Click through and check the top bar of your browser.)

The article doesn't mention picture books, of course, yet still calls to mind a post I did on the bold topics nonfiction picture books have covered in recent yearsand by "bold" I mean "unfamiliar." This is the part to which I'm referring:

"Oddly, not all biopics are suffering—just the ones about people you have heard of."

Setoodeh cites recent flops about Amelia Earhart, Charles Darwin, and Orson Welles and hits including Erin Brockovich and The Blind Side (both about people who are not household names—or at least weren't when the films came out).

I believe there is a story to tell about everyone, and there is clear proof that there are multiple ways to tell a story about a famous person. Yet I am more drawn to telling stories that have not been told before, at least not in book form.

Less commercial? So it would seem going in, yet it doesn't always play out that way.

Even notoriously risk-averse Hollywood, on more occasions than perhaps it's given credit for, thinks the same.

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