Once again a flea market has offered up another vintage Disney book for the blog:
9 1/2″ x 12 1/2 ” with 30 pages
Mother Goose nursery rhymes have been told and retold too many times to count, but this retelling gives the familiar tales a Disney twist. Each verse is accompanied by images of beloved Disney characters, both well-known and obscure.
The artwork is attributed to the Walt Disney Studio, with no single artist being credited.
Now let’s take a look at some of the rhymes with accompanying artwork:
The whole cast…
It’s always cool to see so many Disney characters together! Above we have a collection of favorites like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Pinocchio alongside vintage characters like the Three Little Pigs/Big Bad Wolf and Clara Cluck, and then obscure characters like Bongo and Pablo (the penguin).
The Old Woman needs to add a boot annex to her shoe!
The Seven Dwarfs
I thought this page was neat because it used each of the seven dwarfs for a different rhyme that basically fit their personalities.
Song of the South
The book has many references to the Song of the South. The rhyme One to Ten depicts the only time Br’er Fox would ever consider letting Br’er Rabbit go!
Bongo and Lulubelle
Not many Disney fans remember little Bongo and his girlfriend, the couple from the package film Fun and Fancy Free. This was a character that didn’t quite make it but did show up from time to time in books like this.
This page caught my eye. Not only are characters from Song of the South featured again (Yea!) but Snow White makes an appearance in a color-variant of her signature dress.
Lastly, the little black lamb from So Dear to My Heart makes an appropriate cameo in Baa, Baa, Black Sheep!
The rhymes are basic and well-known, but for very young children, everything is new again! The artwork alone, with the Disney touch, is worth adding this book to your child’s collection.
I would give this book a 4 out of 5 Stars. Again, story wise, there is nothing new here. But for the Disney fan, seeing beloved characters portraying favorite Mother Goose characters should be worth a look. You can find a reprinting of this book on Amazon as of the date of this post.
This particular copy is the eighth printing by the Western Publishing Company from 1973. It is part of the Golden Book series.
Perhaps even more than the story or the characters it’s the music we remember the most from our favorite Disney movies. From the iconic Some Day My Prince Will Come from Snow White to fun tunes like Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah from Song of the South, we love to sing along. Even our favorite theme park attractions have signature songs, like It’s a Small World, which we just can’t get out of our heads!
Well, now you can not only sing along, but actually play the tunes yourself, thanks to this Golden Book:
This was published by the Western Publishing Company as a fourth printing in 1976. My goal is to have only mint condition first editions in my Disney book collection, but with the extensive title library available, I’ll have to settle for some later editions in questionable conditions, like this one.
I picked this copy up at a local flea market for $6.00 CAN which was still too much to pay, even though it was on for half price. The condition makes it all-but worthless monetarily, but I thought it still had some value for interest sake.
Let’s have a look at the inside:
Nice collage from the inside leaf, front and back
Each movie or Disney property featured starts with a brief introductory blurb. This gives you some basic information about what the songs were meant to achieve in the story.
Let’s begin our review of the songs in this book by visiting the animated film that started it all, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs:
As you can see, the artwork, although well done, is not ‘on model’. That is, the characters are more stylized than what we may normally see in promotional artwork for the same characters.
Here are some more pages and songs I picked out:
Casey Junior is one of my favorite Disney characters! It is amazing how many trains made it into Disney films, although not surprising when one considers Walt obsession with steam locomotives!
From Song of the South
One of my all-time favorite Disney live-action/animated blends! And although the song above may not be the signature song from the film, it has definitely been an inspiration for me. Because I don’t want you to miss any of the fun lyrics, here is the concluding page:
Everyone finished laughing? Then let’s move on:
OK, when I came across this song from a movie I had never heard of. I’ve never seen this song on any Disney compilation CD either, so why it was included in this volume is beyond me. The live-action film was released in 1969 and was a based on the book Rascal by Sterling North about a young man and his pet raccoon set in Wisconsin.
The movie is a dramatization of Sterling North’s 1963 “memoir of a better era.” The movie relates a year in the life of young Sterling North which featured, of all things, a raccoon.
The film features the forgotten song “Summer Sweet” and starred Bill Mumy of Lost in Space fame.
From Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Not one of Disney’s best live-action/animation blends, it was made to capitalize on the popularity of Mary Poppins. It starred Angela Lansbury (who later became Mrs. Potts) and featured the return of Mr. Banks actor David Tomlinson. Although not a singer per se, he is featured prominently in this song along with Ms. Lansbury.
I had heard and enjoyed this song long before I knew where it came from. I think most Disney fans may have been in the same predicament, as the 1971 film doesn’t rate very high on most people’s ‘Best of Disney’ lists. Although the film received mostly positive reviews from critics and has scored 63% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Now let’s branch away from movies to a theme park entry:
It’s a Small World
Written by the Sherman Brothers for the UNICEF attraction at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, this song just. Will. Not. Die. It’s been playing continuously, or at least it feels that way, since 1966 at Disneyland. And I guess we wouldn’t have it any other way!
From TV’s Davy Crockett series
With only five television episodes Disney managed to whip the world into a frenzy with this ballad turned anthem. The episodes were released as two feature-length motion pictures to even greater reception. If only I had a penny for every coonskin cap sold!
From TV’s TheMickey Mouse Club show
Fittingly, the song book ends with this merry march, singing the virtues of everyone’s favorite ‘leader of the club’, Mickey Mouse.
I would give this book a 5 out of 5 Stars as it is useful to those who wish to play their favorite songs on the piano while singing along. The inclusion of complete lyrics is a plus. The artwork, although stylized, is very good.
If you would like a copy, Amazon has several available. Used copies start from $19.99 US with new hardcover copies starting at a much higher $135.88 US as of April 2, 2016.
Whitman Publishing wasa subsidiary of Western Publishing that produced a popular line of children’s books the early 1900s to the mid-1970s. Whitman published a variety of genres including westerns, mysteries, science fiction, and adventure stories. Eventually they also published authorized editions of popular television shows and book adaptions of many Walt Disney films.
Among the most popular Disney adaptions were a series of mystery novels featuring Annette Funicello. And although I don’t have one of those, yet, I do have two Disney-related titles to share with you today:
Toby Tyler is a film produced by Walt Disney Productions and was released January 21, 1960. The book version above is copyrighted the same year. The story is based on the 1880 children’s book Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks with a Circus by James Otis Kaler.
Film Synopsis: Ten year old Toby runs away from his foster home to join the circus. There he soon befriends Mr. Stubbs, a chimpanzee. However, the circus isn’t all fun and he has some rough times. At one point, he departs the circus for home but is brought back to the circus against his will. His family is in attendance during one particular performance and a reunion ensues. Along with his chimpanzee sidekick, he creates a new act and is a big hit at the Big Top!
The book basically follows this plot with less detail than the movie version. Here are a few pages to show the artwork. The crude one-color printing is indicative of the period in publishing for children’s books:
Inside leaf, front and back
The next book that I have does co-star Annette along with Tommy Kirk as the title character, Merlin Jones:
Inside leaf, front and back
The Misadventures of Merlin Jones is a 1964 Walt Disney production where Kirk plays a college student who experiments with mind-reading and hypnotism, leading to run-ins with a local judge. Funicello plays his girlfriend (and sings the film’s title song written by brothers Robert and Richard Sherman). This film led to a 1965 sequel called The Monkey’s Uncle which featured another title song sung by Annette but this time with The Beach Boys. The book version is also copyrighted 1964.
Film Synopsis: Midvale College student Merlin designs a helmet that connects to an electroencephalographic tape that records mental activity. He is brought before a Judge for wearing the helmet while driving and his license is suspended. Merlin returns to the lab and discovers accidentally that his new invention enables him to read minds. This leads to a misunderstanding between himself and the judge, with hilarity ensuing!
Merlin’s next experiment uses hypnotism which he uses on lab chimp. Merlin gets into a fight over this and ends up in front of the same judge as before. After some explaining, Merlin and the judge enter into an experiment involving dishonesty with hilarity ensuing!
Let’s have a look at the artwork, which is again one-color renderings of key scenes:
I would give these two books, and the series from Whitman in general, a 4 out of 5 Stars. I think they are a great way to get your tween into reading but being as the series was discontinued in 1970’s it may be hard to interest them in the subject matter.
These books are very common and so can be found at almost any flea market. I paid only a few dollars for each of these. Condition issues are usually prevalent as the clear protective film that covers the hardcover binding tends to peel off, and the spines are often cracked.
Page yellowing is another common issue due to the cheap grade of paper used in printing, but this is expected and so doesn’t affect the price as much. Still, be careful what you pay, and only pay more for a copy that is in absolute mint condition.