A shiny but veneer-thin profile.

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WALT'S IMAGINATION

THE LIFE OF WALT DISNEY

From the Big Words series

A hagiographical account of the great animator’s early years and later triumphs.

Next to the rest of the inspirational and aspirational entries in the Big Words series (Martin’s Big Words, 2001, etc.) this carries a muddled message. Rappaport gives the nod to many of Disney’s creative innovations, but, particularly toward the abrupt end, Disney comes off as more control freak than genius. Efforts to sanitize his classic rags-to-riches career include a weaselly claim that he “felt betrayed” when his animators went on strike for proper pay and film credit (the accompanying picture shows him sulking in a chair as picketers march outside). Even in her afterword she neglects to mention some of his less-stellar achievements, such as his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee (and, for that matter, Song of the South). Several of the large-type taglines interspersed throughout are likewise bland (“Music has always had a prominent part in all our products”), and a closing reference to Disney’s legacy in the modern theme parks’ “many rides and many stores” sheds a rather commercial light on Walt’s characterization of Disneyland as an organic tribute to all imagination. In the illustrations, Pomeroy, a Disney Studios veteran, supplies big, vivacious views of his subject at various ages, often surrounded by versions or sketches of Mickey and other cartoon creations as well as a largely white workforce.

A shiny but veneer-thin profile. (timeline, illustrator’s note, bibliography, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8470-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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Blandly laudatory.

I AM WALT DISNEY

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

The iconic animator introduces young readers to each “happy place” in his life.

The tally begins with his childhood home in Marceline, Missouri, and climaxes with Disneyland (carefully designed to be “the happiest place on Earth”), but the account really centers on finding his true happy place, not on a map but in drawing. In sketching out his early flubs and later rocket to the top, the fictive narrator gives Ub Iwerks and other Disney studio workers a nod (leaving his labor disputes with them unmentioned) and squeezes in quick references to his animated films, from Steamboat Willie to Winnie the Pooh (sans Fantasia and Song of the South). Eliopoulos incorporates stills from the films into his cartoon illustrations and, characteristically for this series, depicts Disney as a caricature, trademark mustache in place on outsized head even in childhood years and child sized even as an adult. Human figures default to white, with occasional people of color in crowd scenes and (ahistorically) in the animation studio. One unidentified animator builds up the role-modeling with an observation that Walt and Mickey were really the same (“Both fearless; both resourceful”). An assertion toward the end—“So when do you stop being a child? When you stop dreaming”—muddles the overall follow-your-bliss message. A timeline to the EPCOT Center’s 1982 opening offers photos of the man with select associates, rodent and otherwise. An additional series entry, I Am Marie Curie, publishes simultaneously, featuring a gowned, toddler-sized version of the groundbreaking physicist accepting her two Nobel prizes.

Blandly laudatory. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2875-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of...

THE FIRST MEN WHO WENT TO THE MOON

A 50th-anniversary commemoration of the epochal Apollo 11 mission.

Modeling her account on “The House That Jack Built” (an unspoken, appropriate nod to President John F. Kennedy’s foundational role in the enterprise), Greene takes Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins from liftoff to post-splashdown ticker-tape parade. Side notes on some spreads and two pages of further facts with photographs at the end, all in smaller type, fill in select details about the mission and its historical context. The rhymed lines are fully cumulated only once, so there is some repetition but never enough to grow monotonous: “This is the Moon, a mysterious place, / a desolate land in the darkness of space, / far from Earth with oceans blue.” Also, the presentation of the text in just three or fewer lines per spread stretches out the narrative and gives Brundage latitude for both formal and informal group portraits of Apollo 11’s all-white crew, multiple glimpses of our planet and the moon at various heights, and, near the end, atmospheric (so to speak) views of the abandoned lander and boot prints in the lunar dust.

It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of tributes to our space program’s high-water mark. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58536-412-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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