While plenty of children’s books have been adapted to film, are there any books about kids in film? The answer, now, is yes. Co-editor Paul Corupe and Kier-La Janisse have unleashed Kid Power! into the world. Although the book contains 260 pages filled with photos, illustrations, and content, the volume itself is diminutive—representative of the stature of little humans themselves.
What is this thing? Why did Janisse and Corupe—as well as their contributors—write this? Why do I care?
I’ll tell you. Kid Power! is very different from any film book I’ve seen. It’s a glimpse into the strange world of children in strange film—from several countries: namely, Canada, USA, England, Australia, and Italy. Another reason to care is that there is personality here. This isn’t just another look at ‘fill-in-the-blank’ in cinema, or thankfully, a dry academic tome. This book is a compendium of memories from the now-adults who acted in the films and TV specials written about here, as well as from the big kids who grew up watching.
Interesting personal recollections from the book’s contributors are on display. Robin Bougie’s chapter “Playland: Curtis Hanson’s The Children of Times Square” relates what it’s like to escape into the gritty underbelly of New York, both onscreen and in reality. Chris Alexander’s “Motherless Child: The Power and the Poetry of The Ugly Little Boy” warmly tells us about his late great-grandmother and about the emotional impact of a certain 23-minute film he saw in school… that has stayed with him to this day.
There are also some eye-opening interviews. Corupe’s “After School Shootout: The Lowry Brothers’ Hawk Jones” chapter, details a wonderfully weird 80s film in which children starred as cops and baddies. Janisse talks to David Bradley, the now-grown star of Kes, as well as directors John and Paul Hough (“The Dark Side of Disney”) and Afterschool Special producer Martin Tahse in “Knowing is Half the Battle.” She has also compiled a chapter on child actors and actresses who starred in this TV series. It ranges from merely interesting (Rob Lowe once played a teen dad) to very tragic—popular child actress Judith Barsi was murdered by her father at the age of 10… apparently in a unfathomable jealous rage. Footnotes like these are exactly what makes Kid Power! so interesting. Much like House of Psychotic Women, Janisse’s obsession with detail takes you out of your own world and into her encyclopedic, cinematic realm.
In addition to the previous movies and TV series, many beloved titles are reviewed and recounted, such as Seven Little Australians, Kes, The Peanut Butter Solution, The Little Vampire TV series, and even a look into the career of Nicoletta Elmi, the Italian child star of numerous horror films, as in Who Saw Her Die?, Deep Red, and Bay Of Blood.
In honor of the release, Janisse will be selling copies of Kid Power! at the Brattle Theatre on Friday, November 7, at 7:30pm, paired with a 35mm screening of The Bad News Bears, followed by a 35mm double feature of Escape to Witch Mountain and Return to Witch Mountain the next day on Saturday, November 8 at 1pm.