44 Pages screens at Aperture 1 on April 7 at 10 a.m. and at UNCSA Gold on April 8at 1:30 p.m. Director Tony Shaff and producer Rebecca Green will attend both screenings.

They don’t mention Santa Claus in Highlights for Children magazine, not in 70 years of placements in doctors’ and dentists’ offices and the millions of issues mailed to subscribers worldwide.

These days, the children’s magazine has similar embargoes on words such as “witch,” that might offend the wiccan community, or reader-contributed illustrations of violence, or anything about child trafficking, or even some subjects, like guns, that they covered in years past.

“What open-minded looked like in 1950 is different than it looks like now,” says Editor Judy Burke.

The mag still won’t feature same-sex parents in its pages, though the editors feel that will inevitably change.

But 44 Pages, the feature documentary about the magazine by UNCSA graduate Tony Shaff, is more than a list of things that Highlights won’t cover.

Its history goes back to Garry and Caroline Myers, pioneers in their burgeoning field of child psychology, who created the first children’s publication with the end consumer in mind. The family still owns the publication.

The film snapshots the magazine as it assembles its 70th anniversary issue, from the first focus-group meeting to the moment it rolls off the press, veering off to bits about the history and culture of the magazine for exposition, and addressing some of the challenges it faces as times, and the very nature of childhood, change.

— Brian Clarey

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