Sir Charlie: Chaplin, The Funniest Man in the World

Sid Fleischman, Greenwillow, $19.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-189640-8
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)
Reviewed on: 05/24/2010
Release date: 06/01/2010
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