For Video Gifts, Weston Woods Films
    by John Cech

Brief sound clip

That's the powerful, famous beginning of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, from the Weston Woods animated film version of this Caldecott Award classic. If you're looking for videos -- to give as presents or for your own family film festival -- head for the many wonderful films that have been produced by Weston Woods Studios, which turns fifty this coming year.

From the beginning, the vision of the studio's founder, Morton Schindel, was to create the highest quality films for young people from the very best material that was available. The source that Weston Woods immediately tapped into were the award-winning picture books that were just waiting to be transformed into films, among them Robert McCloskey's Make Way for Ducklings and Virginia Lee Burton's Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. Within a few years Weston Woods' films were appearing on "Captain Kangaroo," and by the 1960s, the studio was collaborating with such artists as Academy-Award-winning animator, Gene Deitch, who would make the remarkable films based on the works of Maurice Sendak and others. Weston Woods has earned its stellar reputation for its celebration of our most talented creators of books for younger children. This long list includes Barbara Cooney, Ezra Jack Keats, James Marshall, Chris Raschka, I. B. Singer, William Steig, the Pinkneys (Andrea, Brian, and Jerry), and Rosemary Wells. While many adaptations by other filmmakers may seem to be completely disconnected from the originals on which they're based, Weston Woods has always taken great pride in remaining close and true to its source of inspiration -- the book itself -- whether it's about a boy dressed in wolf suit or a penguin crooner on an Antarctic glacier.

Copyright 2002 John Cech

For further information about Weston Woods and its Films visit their website at: http://www.westonwoodsinstitute.org/

Image from Cover of the Maurice Sendak Library (1992)
Maurice Sendak Library, a Weston Woods Video

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Thursday, 12-Feb-2004 09:28:24 EST

"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."