Please forgive me for what I am about to admit to you. Though it’s a sin of practically unforgivable proportions (or so I’ve been told), I’ve never seen Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. I’ve heard about it, I’ve seen the posters, I’ve even listened to sections of “This is Halloween”, but despite being on this Earth all these years, I had never seen the actual film in its entirety. Until just now, that is. Perhaps it is just the types of communities that I have participated in (many of them theatrical ones), but The Nightmare Before Christmas has had a huge reputation. Though I had never told anyone that I had yet to see the film, the comments that I heard told me that this was a film not to be missed. Now that I have seen the film, I must stand back and say that this reputation has been properly justified. The film is a wonderful musical trip that encompasses much of the spirit, adventure, and fun of childhood. At the same time, there is much to love for adults as well. Though the stop-motion has a dark look to it (and does feature skeletons, witches, ghosts, and other ghastly figures), the film is actually about one man’s quest to find the meaning of Christmas. There are no plot twists or epic surprises, but the film has such a strong cast that it doesn’t need any of that in order to be the enjoyable and captivating story that it is.
This leads me to the second part of this double-feature review. Though The Nightmare Before Christmas is a well-known story by now, something that may not be as well-known is The Julius Romeros Extravaganza by Hayley Lawson-Smith. If this sounds familiar on my blog, I did a post about it before. That blog post talked about the first part of the trilogy. Part Two is now available for reading. If you read the book (or the blog post about it), you might remember that the first book (“A Bearded Girl“) details a bearded girl named Abigail and her journey to find a family that she can call her own. In the second part (“A New Adventure“), she has found her family, who are a colorful cast of circus performers. However, though Abigail is with the Extravaganza, unwanted changes to the circus act means that the family will have to find new ways to deal with a world that they cannot control. Just like The Nightmare Before Christmas, the characters all have their own distinct personalities. Though this book isn’t a musical the way that Nightmare is, the dialogue has a great rhyme to it that feels as melodious as instruments working together. This is a story about finding one’s identity and figuring out who one is (both in their community and on their own) and about understanding how one can still be oneself when some of their physical attributes are modified. In the same vein of Nightmare, young adults and adults should be able to enjoy the tale together (so get multiple copies).
*Photo Courtesy of Gloria Miller from pinterest.com.