Sir Charlie : Chaplin, the Funniest Man in the World

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Krisan Murphy
The tip of a hat and a twitching mustache, a swirling cane, and a calculated trip sends silent movie watchers into a roaring belly laugh. The comic talents of Charlie Spencer Chaplin, born April 16, 1889, grew out of poverty, longing, and natural ability as described by the author in this captivating audio version of the world renowned comic's life. Abandoned by his father when still an infant, Charlie and his older half-brother were reared by their mother; a woman who spent most of her adult life in and out of insane asylums. What Charlie lacked in parental oversight, he made up for in a determination to become someone noteworthy in the world of entertainment. He began his career as a boy in a Sherlock Holmes stage show in England, his country of birth. The borders of his homeland could not contain the young man, and Charlie found himself in America appearing in, and eventually producing, the black-and-white short silent films of the times. The saga of Charlie's love life spans four marriages, the last of which became a happy and enduring one to Oona O'Neill and produced eight children. In this biography, the presentation of a hard-working, talented man, driven by his obsessively creative mind makes evident why this man was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his successful career as actor, producer, financier, director, and more. The audio version concludes with a timeline of Chaplin's life and list of his films. Reviewer: Krisan Murphy
Publishers Weekly
Fleischman, who died in March at age 90, left readers with this delightful and informative homage to one of his idols, the silent screen star who went into exile in 1952. "Chaplin had left town... to take up residence in Switzerland. But his footprints were everywhere." Those footprints turned "outward so that each angled off like opposite hands of a clock, at ten past ten," the duck-footed waddle of the Little Tramp, Chaplin's most famous character. Fleischman fills out the familiar outlines of Chaplin's biography--born to Dickensian poverty in England, he scaled the heights of Hollywood fame--in jocular prose and without sugarcoating. Chaplin's gift for mimicry got him laughs "without uttering a word," but he badly misread the tea leaves when "talkies" arrived, and his egomaniacal methods alienated co-stars, collaborators, and three of his four wives. Like Fleischman's biographies of Twain and Houdini, this book is as good-looking as it is well written, with b&w photographs, vintage newspaper clippings, source notes, and a filmography that should send many in search of the silent film gems that made Chaplin one of America's first movie stars. Ages 9–up. (June)
VOYA - Amanda MacGregor
The modern reader may not know much about silent films, but Fleischman's biography of Charlie Chaplin provides a crash course in understanding movies before "talkies," or films with sound, and the genius of their biggest star. Chaplin, born to vaudevillians in 1889 in London, spent the first many years of his life struggling to get by on his own. His father, a feckless drunk, abandoned the family, and his mother spent most of her life in and out of mental institutions. A natural entertainer, the young Chaplin performed in vaudeville acts and plays and was discovered by a director while part of a comedy troupe touring America. A master of physical humor and slapstick comedy, Chaplin, wearing a bowler hat, fake mustache, and oversize shoes, became an instant celebrity. In what seemed like hardly any time at all, this Cockney kid from the slums became an icon, directing his own films, building a studio, and becoming a millionaire in his twenties. Additionally, Fleischman writes about Chaplin's four marriages, his investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee, and his eventual expulsion from the United States. Fleischman draws the reader in, writing with a droll tone that is well-matched to the subject. Though young readers may not be familiar with Chaplin, this book will appeal to fans of movie history and surely inspire readers to seek out Chaplin's films. Reviewer: Amanda MacGregor
Kirkus Reviews
Fleischman's unabashed adoration for the duck-footed comedian, filmmaker and movie star effervesces from this fascinating, generously illustrated biography. How a nearly illiterate Cockney boy born to London vaudevillians in 1889 became a Hollywood movie mogul is truly one for the storybooks. The author is almost giddy in the telling, as if Chaplin's flair for hyperbole and comic timing were contagious. When discussing Chaplin's artistic perfectionism in demanding 100 retakes of a particular kissing scene, for example, the author quips, "The heroine went through enough lipstick to paint a small house." Chaplin was an ambitious man who spent his life compensating for the poverty of his childhood, but his adulthood-despite the phenomenal fame and fortune that accompanied it-was complicated and often tragic. Movie-history buffs will learn about the effect of "talkies" on the silent-film industry, and on the pantomime master's ego. Further exploration of Chaplin's classic films, from The Kid (1921) to Modern Times (1936), is a must after finishing this colorful homage to "the funniest man on earth." (timeline, references, photograph sources, bibliography, filmography, index) (Biography. 10 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781935430926
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio Inc
  • Publication date: 11/1/2012
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 1.60 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Another entertaining biography

    I loved Fleischman's first two biographies for young readers -- about Mark Twain and Harry Houdini. Here he turns his considerable talents to the life of Charlie Chaplin, who most young readers will know nothing about (just the idea of silent film will probably be very, very strange.) I knew only the outlines of his life myself -- born to Dickensian poverty in England, scaled the heights of Hollywood fame -- but Fleischman fills in the mostly sad details. Prodigiously talented, Chaplin suffered from egomania, and badly misread the tea leaves when sound first arrived in his medium. Fleischman's conveys the story in jocular prose. Photographs, newspaper clippings and a reader-friendly design with lots of white space make this an ideal choice for middle school report-writers looking for something different.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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