Book Review: Learning from a Disney Little Golden Book

Partial quote from the back cover of this Little Golden Book – “Is your life more ‘ho-hum’ than ‘heigh-ho’? Have you forgotten how to see the magic in the world around you? To get back that childlike sparkle, look no further than…”

Publisher: Random House

Type: Hardcover

Pages: 90

ISBN: 978-0-7364-3425-6

Price: $10.99 CAN / $9.99 US

Little Golden Books are timeless treasures covering many different franchises that have lived on children’s bookshelves for decades. Disney versions often contained both classic and contemporary characters, and this volume is no different.

As said, this particular volume features characters both old and new along with some more obscure references. Let’s have a look at some of the pages:

    

Examples of modern characters and art styling

    

Examples of older characters with vintage art styling

    

The two pictures above depict more obscure Disney references. On the left is Once Upon a Wintertime which was a segment in the 1948 Melody Time feature film. On the right is a cover picture from a Giant Golden Book published in 1944. Artwork was done by the great Mary Blair.

The book is laid out as a singular story extolling the virtues of living a good life and of how to do it. Disney characters are used to represent each motivational thought. Only a few words appear on each page making it easy to read to youngsters or for children to read for themselves.

The artwork is charming but my only complaint would be that the small print at the bottom of each page detracts from it.

Review: I would give this publication a 4 out of 5 Stars. The price is a bit high for what it is and I found the text to be a bit repetitive and contrived. Otherwise it is a great little (golden) book!

Book Review: Flying Cars – The True Story

When you first heard the lyrics “Off we go, into the wild, blue, yonder! Off we go…” you probably weren’t thinking of doing so in flying cars. Standard airplanes are the vehicles of choice for the sky! But that was not always the plan.

Publisher: Clarion Books

ISBN: 978-0-618-98482-4

Type: Hardcover

Pages: 118

Price: $17.99 US

Andrew Glass has put together an interesting chronological listing of flying cars starting from 1901 to the present. He accompanies the facts with little asides about the inventors and the times they lived in, their successes and oft-times spectacular failures.

How could you not want one of these?

Famous people like the Wright Brothers, Amelia Earhart, and famous classical conductor Leopold Stokowski (of Fantasia fame) all followed the progress of the technology with the last two names actually ordering their own flying cars! Unfortunately, the models they ordered were never put into production. In fact, no flying car has ever been put into production.

But that hasn’t stopped inventors from continuing to design and build prototypes right down to our day.

If you can drive, why not fly?

The thing that stood out for me in this book is just how close North America came to having flying cars in every garage. Plans were made to position runways next to major highways so commuters could take off and land right next to their freeway exit. One visionary even claimed that rush hour traffic would be eliminated as more and more motorists took to the skies!

I guess no one envisioned traffic jams in the clouds.

Claims were made that flying one of these babies was as easy as driving your family car. After you learned how to attach and detach the wings and flying controls of course!

I first became aware of flying cars while watching the Disney/Pixar movie Planes which featured a German flying car named Franz Fliegenhosen. He is rendered to be a German 1954 Taylor Aerocar:

Real or ‘invented’ by Pixar?

Below is a picture of an actual Aerocar from 1949 designed by Moulton B. Taylor:

Real. But Pixar gussied it up a bit for the movie

What is the same between this real flying car and the one Pixar ‘invented’ is that the Aerocar was the only flying car to carry its plane components behind it on a trailer, like Franz does in the movie. All other models were designed to leave the fuselage behind at an airstrip.

So there you go. For over 100 years inventors have been working on a way to get your Hyundai airborne. The book is chock full of freaky-tiki examples, including my favorite idea, the flying Ford Pinto (it crashed. The idea was abandoned.)

Review: I would give this book a 5 out of 5 Stars but perhaps only 4 Stars for the average reader. It is basically just a chronological look at flying cars, so if you are not interested in the subject matter, you won’t likely be entertained. However, Glass does find the humor in flying cars, if you can imagine that.

My conclusion after reading the book? I. Want. A. Flying. Car.

Book Review: Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull

I was minding my own business (pun intended) while browsing the shelves of my local Chapters book store when I saw a huge poster on the wall advertising Creativity Inc. and I recognized right away that it featured an image from Pixar Studios! Immediately I went on a hunt for the book it was advertising.

Publisher: Random House Canada

Pages: 340

Type: Hardcover

ISBN: 978-0-307-36117-2

Date: 2014

And what a book it was! Most Disney/Pixar fans will pick up just about anything that is related to these companies. This book however may not find its way onto as many home bookshelves as say, The Art of Tangled or The Story of Walt Disney. Why?

Fair warning: You really need to love reading and the inner workings of business to enjoy, or even understand, this book. But that’s not a bad thing! Stick with it and you will learn some fascinating history behind the making of your favorite Pixar films along with some insights into the characters of the men and women who made them.

But especially this guy:

Ed Catmull

We all know about John Lasseter and Steve Jobs and their contributions to Pixar’s success. But there are many more people who have made the company’s continued growth and profit possible. Ed Catmull is among these people. And he is generous in noting the hard work of others!

I can’t say much more about the contents of this book. To quote anything would be to print it so radically out of context that it would be impossible to understand. I think the book needs to be considered as a whole by readers who get the medal for finishing it!

Review: I’d give the book a 4 out of 5 Stars. I think many will find it a tad dry and a bit of a slog to get through. But I also think this is due to the nature of the material, and its primary focus on business, and not due to Catmull’s writing. However, it isn’t a book for every Disney/Pixar fan so I have to lower its mark because of this hampered appeal.

Personally though I’d say ‘buy Creativity Inc.’ because if you’ve ever worked for a company that was abusive to employees and made you wonder where common sense went, you’ll be uplifted to see how Pixar became a company that put people first.

Book Review: The Magic of Disney Storybook Collection

ISBN: 0-7868-3523-0

Type: Hardcover

Size: 9″ x 9″

Pages: 320

Publisher: Disney Press

Date: 2004

This is quite a nice collection of original stories featuring many of our favorite Disney characters along with a few lesser known or forgotten ones. There are thirteen stories in all. Some are:

    

I loved reading a story about Sport Goofy! It has been a long time since Goofy has played this character. Other long-lost characters show up in another story:

Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar

My wife and I got to pose with Horace in the Magic Kingdom in 2008. It’s nice to see classic characters making a comeback. Gladstone Gander and Scrooge McDuck also make appearances in separate stories.

Even little Figaro from Pinocchio makes an appearance as the mischievous pet of Minnie Mouse:

And this book also pens a tail (wait for it) of Mickey’s first meeting with Pluto:

It appears that Mickey filled in for a man at a pet store and took Pluto as his payment. It was a fun story!

One of the main things I liked about this book was the diversity of the artwork. Being published in 2004 one would expect the sanitized renderings used for merchandising, but instead we get retro, Golden Books, and comic strip styles of artwork.

Review: I’d give this book a 4.5 out of 5 Stars. A few of the stories took the easy way out with subject matter and some of the artwork was generic. But overall, for children, this would be an excellent reader. The text is large (20-point Cochin) and the sentence structure would make it easy for even younger ones to read for themselves.

This book is still available from on-line stores and is part of a larger series of storybook collections.

Book Review: Disney’s Adventure Guide to Florida

A FODOR’s Travel Book

Size: 7″ x 10″

Type: Soft Cover

Pages: 64

ISBN: 0-679-00575-7

Distributed by: David McKay Company, Inc.

Date: 1980

Fodor’s Travel is the world’s largest publisher of English language travel and tourism information and the first relatively professional producer of travel guidebooks. Fodor’s Travel and Fodors.com are divisions of Random House, Inc.

Today, Fodor’s has published more than 440 guides (in 14 series) on over 300 destinations, and has more than 700 permanently placed researchers all over the world.

Back in the 1980’s Disney was more charitable with sharing the tourist dollars that flowed into Florida. They produced ‘adventure guides’ like this one to highlight all of the available attractions in the State rather than just Walt Disney World. You can find such cross-promotion on souvenirs like tin trays, to name just one type of item.

Similar images are found on tin trays of the period

So let’s have a look at just some of the attractions featured in this book:

Cape Canaveral

Disney would have a hard time competing with real space vehicles but did eventually try with Mission:Space, a centrifugal motion simulator thrill ride at Epcot that opened in 2003.

Daytona Beach

The Sky Lift pictured here is apparently no longer in operation. Here is what Joe Wittwer had to say about his ride on it in 2007: “This ride scared me so bad. You don’t go over water, just the concrete pier below. It looks like it hasn’t been maintained in decades.” It is probably safe to assume it is gone!

Disney now tries to compete with the natural beaches of Florida with two major water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. Disney’s ‘Bucket Ride’ is also gone!

         

High Wire Parrots and Jungle Cruises

I guess at this point you just have to say that in 1980, Florida had it all!

Everglades National Park

Alligators are synonymous with Florida and not always in a good way. But back in 1980 tourist were encouraged to walk along precarious wooden ‘bridges’ and seek them out!

 

Cypress Gardens and Busch Gardens

Cypress Gardens was a botanical garden and theme park near Winter Haven, Florida that operated from 1936 to 2009. It was in 2011 that the botanical garden portion was preserved inside the newly formed Legoland Florida.

Busch Gardens opened on March 31, 1959, as an admission-free hospitality facility for Tampa Anheuser-Busch; in addition to various beer tastings, they had a bird garden and the Stairway to the Stars, which was an escalator that took guests to the roof of the brewery. And that works for me! It has grown over the years and is still in operation today.

Walt Disney World

Other than having Disney characters interspersed throughout the book, this is the only page dedicated to a Disney destination. Just to put it a bit above the rest, the copy reads that “There’s nothing quite like it east of California’s Disneyland.” We can forgive Disney because it is a true statement!

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage was an attraction at the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World from 1971 through 1994. So of all the attractions that could have been pictured on this page, they certainly picked an iconic one!

         

Price: $3.95 US

Review: This was more of a souvenir guide than an actual guide-book. No addresses are given for any of the attractions so it would serve better as a reminder of places gone than a true guide to places that one would want to see.

So judging it as such I would give it a 4.5 out of 5 Stars.