The landscape of children's literature is a varied and sometimes treacherous terrain. For every light-hearted, sugar-coated read by Beverly Cleary, there's a Where the Red Fern Grows, a lovely story about a boy and his dogs...that ends in nightmare-inducing tragedy. I remember my heartbreak as I finished that book, and I wonder sometimes at what point you want to start introducing your kids to stories that don't always end with sunshine and rainbows. Irish author John Boyne was the center of that conundrum a few years ago when he published The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, a tale of a headstrong little boy whose father is a commander at Auschwitz. The boy, Bruno, is fascinated with the people in the striped pajamas he sees on the grounds of the concentration camp and forges a friendship with a little prisoner named Shmuel. What happens in this story makes Where the Red Fern Grows look like The Cat in the Hat, and the film adaptation by British director Mark Herman is no less wrenching. But the acting, particularly from the two child leads, is sublime and the picture near wondrous, despite the inevitable heartbreak. The Magnolia at the Modern series features the film Friday through Sunday at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St. Showtimes are at 6 and 8 p.m. Friday, 5 p.m. Saturday, and 2 and 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $8.50. Visit themodern.org/magnolia for more information.
Fri., Jan. 23; Sat., Jan. 24; Sun., Jan. 25, 2009