The Reluctant Deckhand.
Written and Directed by Jan Padgett. Illustrated by Amanda Forbis.
Grades 3 - 6 / Ages 8 - 12.
THE ANIMATED VERSION of The Reluctant Deckhand is a thirty-three minute film in six parts (the accompanying novel and teacher's guide are also reviewed in this issue). Each part, indicated by a new log entry, details significant event in Tess's summer.
The animation has the clunky cuteness of a moving watercolour. The reason is the "cut-out" animation technique uses. The figures are drawn, painted, cut out, and re-attached with joints that are manipulated bit by bit under the camera to create movement. The result is deliberately two-dimensional and choppy.
A short documentary about the making of the film follows. In it we are introduced to the real Henry Bay, the boat that inspired the story. We meet author and director Jan Padgett, who describes the conception and execution of the idea in the film. We also meet designed and animator Amanda Forbis.
The animated film and documentary will be enjoyed by students eight to twelve years old. The documentary lends itself well to story-making and art-enrichment activities.
Leslie Millar is a substitute teacher and volunteer in Winnipeg schools.
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