REVIEW: The ‘Art of’ edition offers a preview of the ‘Turning Red’ notebook | Books-and-literature



“The Art of Turning Red” has one of the best “extras” of any making-of book: a look at Mei Lin’s sketchbook.

Positioned in the middle of the lavishly illustrated volume, it shows what the star of Disney Pixar’s “Turning Red” kept under his bed. Pages of math equations, anatomy studies, and versions of the 13-year-old girl’s crush provide the additional information you need to understand the movie’s dynamics.

When displayed on the screen, the laptop is barely visible. Here, however, you can enjoy all the thoughts that Mei Lin didn’t want her mother to know.

Loosely based on filmmaker Domee Shi’s teenage years, “Turning Red” shows what happens when she puts up barriers with her family and friends and – surprisingly – transforms into a giant red panda. The film is a metaphor for many things but the message resonates no matter when the story unfolds.

Shi uses 2002 as a base – which gives him the opportunity to discuss toys and fashions of the time. It was also the golden age of boy bands, which could explain Mei’s determination to go to a concert in Toronto.

4-Town, the NSYNC/Backstreet Boys/O-Town replacement here, gets a song that’s in tune with the times. In “The Art of”, you take a closer look at the five teenagers in the group. The book doesn’t detail each of them, but you can see how they transformed.


Grover Z. Barnes