Mike's Bookshelf

Currently showing posts tagged Disney Editions

  • Disney Pirates: The Definitive Collector’s Anthology by Michael Singer Book Review

    Disney Pirates: The Definitive Collector’s Anthology by Michael Singer

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Delving into the high seas of piratical entertainment created by Walt Disney and his enduring company, Disney Pirates: The Definitive Collector’s Anthology charts a course through history and the Mouse House’s lengthy relationship with a pirate’s life and all the adventure with it.  Long before Captain Jack and his precious Black Pearl won the hearts of audiences worldwide, Singer’s expertly researched work delves into Walt Disney’s own boyhood captivation with the scurvy rebels through the works of Robert Louis Stevenson before bringing that same enthusiasm to his own productions.  From Disney’s first live-action feature, an adaptation of Stevenson’s own Treasure Island, to 1960’s beloved family adventure film, Swiss Family Robinson and beyond to the animated classic Peter Pan, populated by a siege of memorable pirates including the one and only Captain Hook, Singer provides excellent insight into the respective efforts and their unique makings.  Also voyaging into lesser remembered works such as 1997’s Beverly Hills Family Robinson, the underrated Treasure Planet to the more contemporary Jake and the Never Land Pirates and ABC’s Once Upon a Time, every Disney effort bearing the sight of the hellions of the seven seas receives their proper due.  

    No stranger to the rum-filled ways of the tide having helmed previous efforts on the making of the Pirates films, Singer sets his sail on the early desires and eventual executions in bringing Disney’s original groundbreaking attraction to Disneyland in 1967.  Through gorgeous concept designs and illustrations, mostly from Disney legend Marc Davis, fans receive firsthand insight into one of the final attractions overseen by Walt himself that continues to dazzle park visitors and keep them coming back for more.  Ahead of the much anticipated fifth installment’s release, Singer naturally takes readers through the history of the box-office smashing franchise with considerable insight into its latest sequel, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, with interviews from countless cast and crew members including, but not limited to, Co-Directors Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg.  Fitted with a humble foreword by Captain Jack himself, Johnny Depp and a gorgeous photo gallery of production stills from Producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s personal collection, Singer’s exceptional effort concludes with a lengthy chapter on Shanghai Disneyland’s impressive Pirate Cove, the first-ever pirate themed land found in a Disney park befit with the expected magical quality and showmanship fans have come to expect but have yet to fully experience until now.  A perfect appetizer for Jack Sparrow’s next cinematic adventure and a wealthy resource for everything pertaining to Disney’s historic ship of sword-wielding misfits, Singer’s latest work lives up to its definitive moniker, giving readers a fine first mate to travel into the horizon with.

    Available now from Disney Editions, Disney Pirates: The Definitive Collector’s Anthology can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • Aladdin: A Whole New World - The Road to Broadway and Beyond by Michael Lassell Book Review

    Aladdin: A Whole New World - The Road to Broadway and Beyond by Michael Lassell

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Serving as a spectacular backstage pass into the creative making of Disney’s broadway hit, Aladdin: A Whole New World - The Road to Broadway and Beyond charts the painstaking journey begun in 2009 that would magically bring the production to New York’s New Amsterdam Theatre in 2014.  Inviting readers and theatre enthusiasts alike into the many layers that makes a show as extravagant as Aladdin come alive nightly, creative heads from Scenic Designer Bob Crowley and Costume Designer Gregg Barnes to Lighting Designer Natasha Katz, Illusion Designer Jim Steinmeyer and many others, provide insightful takeaways into their inspirations, unique technical challenges and evolving changes presented with ample production sketches and digital renderings of their work prominently displayed.  Cutting into the show’s memorable musical tunes, Lassell’s glitzy text covers the difficult yet, creatively rewarding process involving reimagining beloved songs from the film, reintroducing originally discarded selections and conjuring entirely new cuts for the stage.  Original film composer Alan Menken, Lyricist Tim Rice,  Book helmer Chad Beguelin and Director/Choreographer Casey Nicholaw all offer their own unique experiences in getting the music just right while, tirelessly applauding the timeless work of the late Howard Ashman.  Climbing aboard a magic carpet ride through the show’s rigorous casting process, its experimental Seattle and Toronto showcases before its thrilling Broadway debut plus, its countless international productions in such countries as London, Japan and Australia, Aladdin: A Whole New World - The Road to Broadway and Beyond is a wish come true for stage junkies.  Befit with a shimmering purple cover and gold sparkling paper trim, Disney’s detailed account of their animated smash turned glamorous theatrical effort is a true diamond in the rough for those swayed by the marvel of the stage.

    Available now from Disney Editions, Aladdin: A Whole New World - The Road to Broadway and Beyond can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers. 

  • Mike's Bookshelf Spotlight: Disney's Moana Book Reviews

    With Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 56th feature continuing to make a splash in cinemas, we set sail on a series of Moana based books well worth exploring ahead of its home video release.

    The Story of Moana: A Tale of Courage and Adventure by Kari Sutherland

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Adapting the animated film with equal heart, The Story of Moana: A Tale of Courage and Adventure provides young readers with a wonderfully constructed version of the film and the Pacific Island folktales that inspired it.  Spanning 300 pages and gorgeous cover art, this hardback edition, accompanied with bonus tattoos familiar to those seen on the brave Maui, will make Moana’s adventures a treasured source of reading for those in love with its feature.

    Available now from Disney Press, The Story of Moana: A Tale of Courage and Adventure can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

    Art of Coloring Moana: 100 Images to Inspire Creativity

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Perfect for young artists and artists young at heart, Art of Coloring Moana: 100 Images to Inspire Creativity is tailor-made with art of your favorite characters from the film, tribal patterns, tattoo designs and other beautiful imagery based on the Pacific Island setting awaiting their black-and-white pages to be brought to life.  Both for fun and relaxation, countless pages of creativity awaits those hungry to add their personal touch of color to them.

    Available now from Disney Editions, Art of Coloring Moana: 100 Images to Inspire Creativity can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

    Read-Along Storybook and CD: Moana by Bill Scollon

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Condensing the film version for ages 3-6, this charming storybook interpretation of Moana recalls the spirited teenager who along with demigod Maui dares to trek the ocean to restore the heart of Te Fiti.  Joined by a CD counterpart narrated by Rena Owen and featuring thrilling sound effects, this perfect nighttime read and its lovely illustrations will easily capture the imaginations of young dreamers.

    Available now from Disney Press, Read-Along Storybook and CD: Moana can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

    Moana and the Ocean by Heather Knowles

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Told from the perspective of the sea who has watched over the titular character since birth, Moana and the Ocean is a lovely picture book that celebrates Moana’s enduring spirit and courageousness.  Featuring gorgeous illustrations by Annette Marnat, this simplistic storybook, although brief on text, is an essential addition for its inspiring artwork alone that seamlessly captures the color palettes of the film’s picturesque environment.

    Available now from Disney Press, Moana and the Ocean can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • Maps of the Disney Parks: Charting 60 Years from California to Shanghai by Kevin & Susan Neary and Vanessa Hunt Book Review

    Maps of the Disney Parks: Charting 60 Years from California to Shanghai by Kevin & Susan Neary and Vanessa Hunt

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Highlighting six magical decades and counting of Disney Park experiences, Maps of the Disney Parks: Charting 60 Years from California to Shanghai showcases the evolution of Disney’s domestic and international resorts through the dazzling and ever-changing art of cartography.  Providing brief introductions on each section, Kevin and Susan Neary recall the humble beginnings of Disneyland and Walt’s own attention to detail on its map development in selling the concept to investors.  Although understandably limited on writing with its central focus on visual aids, the maps, curated by Vanessa Hunt, cover early site plans, aerial views and finished brochure ads for Walt’s original park and its impressive growth leading up to its maker’s death in 1966.  As years passed and more developments were made including, the incredible Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida and parks in Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong, the gorgeously painted guides to their kingdoms are collected for guests to better appreciate their craftsmanship and each park’s evolving history.  Leading up to Disney’s California Adventure relaunch in 2012 and the grand opening of Shanghai Disneyland in 2016, this nostalgic journey through the years displayed through the beloved keepsake of all park guests beautifully highlights the overdue appreciation to the beauty of Disney’s maps.  Charmingly presented with a front cover that opens up like the gates to Sleeping Beauty Castle and pages bursting with vibrant colors, Maps of the Disney Parks: Charting 60 Years from California to Shanghai is the perfect solution for fans anxiously awaiting their next Disney resort adventure.

    Available October 18th from Disney Editions, Maps of the Disney Parks: Charting 60 Years from California to Shanghai can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • Walt Disney’s Silly Symphonies: A Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series by Russell Merritt & J.B. Kaufman Book Review

    Walt Disney’s Silly Symphonies: A Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series by Russell Merritt & J.B. Kaufman

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Celebrating the tenth anniversary of its original publication, Russell Merritt and J.B. Kaufman’s Walt Disney’s Silly Symphonies: A Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series returns in a newly revised and updated edition.  Combining their efforts, esteemed Disney historians Merritt and Kaufman honor the innovative and artistically groundbreaking series of short subjects that advanced the techniques and storytelling traits that would prove invaluable in feature length works such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio and Dumbo.  Originally conceived as music based one-reelers, Walt Disney’s followup series to his popular Mickey Mouse shorts would ultimately push the boundaries of his artists and what could be made possible in animation using cutting-edge technology.  Debuting in 1929 with the mesmerizingly eerie The Skeleton Dance, the Silly Symphonies became a constant testing ground for new advancements and abstract tales that relied minimally on reoccurring characters and insistently on splendor, dramatics and forward thinking character animation.  Embracing Technicolor photography, the spectacle of Disney’s Symphonies would continue to impress audiences and critics for their decade run, with higher society praising their artistic richness with endless nominations and Academy Awards for their deserved efforts.

    Improving where their phenomenal first printing left off, Merritt and Kaufman’s voracious research through the Disney Archives have built upon the proper credits and rarely known details into the making of all of the short features.  Detailing the Symphonies distribution history from Columbia and United Artists to eventually RKO Radio Pictures, the animation loving duo expertly cover the constant changes, stylistic formulas and emerging talent that brought their wide range of skills to a series so tonally and aesthetically different than the Mickey Mouse shorts.  Including brand new stills, pencil sketches and clean up animation examples, the stunning visuals only reinforce the scholarly research put forth by both Merritt and Kaufman.  Presenting a full filmography of the shorts assembled in production order, all information of interest including, credits, negative costs, opening dates and photos accompany each in exquisite detail.  Far more accessible than ever, Disney’s Silly Symphonies are some of animation history’s treasured gems that unfortunately find themselves unknown by younger audiences or too commonly undervalued as mere predecessors to Disney’s feature length classics.  Much more than the building blocks to Disney’s golden age films, this newly revised offering of Merritt and Kaufman’s Walt Disney’s Silly Symphonies: A Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series serves as a prized addition to any Disney historians library and the perfect gateway to uninitiated audiences unaware of the visual magic sandwiched between Mickey Mouse’s comic exploits and Snow White’s groundbreaking debut.

    Available September 27th from Disney Editions, Walt Disney’s Silly Symphonies: A Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • The Art of Minnie Mouse Book Review

    The Art of Minnie Mouse

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Celebrating Mickey’s lovable leading lady, The Art of Minnie Mouse spotlights the beloved impact of Disney’s cute and independently-minded character from her debut in 1928 to the present as generations, young and old, continue to cherish her charm and sunny optimism.  Divided into three distinct sections, Minnie’s animated filmography credits and their respective release dates have been painstakingly collected along with descriptive write-ups on her career milestones from her first appearance in the silent short Plane Crazy to her first full conversation with Mickey in 1929’s Mickey’s Choo-Choo are appropriately covered.  In addition, Minnie’s cameo role, alongside other famed Disney characters, in 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit and her crowd pleasing appearances at Disney Parks in costumed and balloon float forms are touched upon with her more recent spotting in the Academy Award nominated short Get a Horse! bringing readers right up to today’s speed.  Finally, Disney’s talented artists, using various mediums, honor the polka-dot donning mouse with their own uniquely styled interpretations with praiseful quotes from the likes of Fashion Designer Marc Jacobs, Television Host Sharon Osbourne, Singer Ariana Grande, Media Personality Kim Kardashian and countless others.  Breezy with greater emphasis on its art gallery, The Art of Minnie Mouse may not be as comprehensive or bursting with revelatory history as other Art of volumes but, its inclusion of the animated star’s complete filmography and career milestones in forms outside of film makes it a welcome, if not imperfect, inclusion for Disney book lovers.  Furthermore, stills of vintage movie posters, Mickey Mouse Magazine covers and story script pages from some of the studio’s most memorable shorts subjects nicely make up for its lack of depth.

    Available September 27th from Disney Editions, The Art of Minnie Mouse can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • The Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember by Steven Clark & Rebecca Cline Book Review

    The Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember by Steven Clark & Rebecca Cline

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Returning to 1923 and the formation of Walt and Roy’s Disney Brothers Studio, The Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember by Steven Clark and Rebecca Cline guides readers through the remarkable history and evolution of the magic factory that has dazzled audiences since opening its gates seventy-five years ago.  After years of hard work and intense struggle, Walt Disney and his talented artists saw the fruits of their labor pay off with the runaway success of their Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies short subjects as well as worldwide acclaim for the first full-length animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  With the heavily employed studio bursting at the seams, relocation was not only necessary but, essential to contain the endlessly imaginative desires of its leader and all future avenues of creative expansion.  Trekking to a vast and desolate lot space in nearby Burbank, California, Disney would realize his spacious vision in 1940 with the completion of his studio plant containing an animation building with individual housing for the invaluable ink and paint, layout and background departments plus, several soundstages, orchestral recording spaces and much more.  Exploring well-documented events in Disney history including, the arrival of World War II and the animation labor strike of 1941, Clark and Cline’s viewpoint of how studio operations were specifically affected with insight from those who were there offers refreshingly new perspective into such gloomier days.  Through the resounding success of Disney’s Cinderella and their commitment to live-action entertainment with such hits as Mary Poppins and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the historic yearbook of sorts provides readers with incredible behind-the-scenes photography of said productions and details the technical dilemmas capturing the underwater sequences of the Verne adaptation and dimensional trickery utilized by the studio to bring 1959’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People to life.

    Appreciatively exploring the much forgotten but no less, important television productions of classic series including, Zorro and Davy Crockett and, their makings on the beloved backlot, The Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember never misses a beat in capturing milestone achievements conducted on the tremendous space to introducing unbeknownst readers to lesser known facts such as Disney’s perfective insistence to incorporate original music for the weekly Zorro, a costly and unprecedented measure in 50s TV making.  From Disneyland’s virtual making and building of attractions, riverboats, models and monorails within the confines of its working studio space, vintage photography of Walt seen with newly painted hippos for Adventureland’s Jungle Cruise and overseeing schematics for the Sailing Ship Columbia that would eventually coast the Rivers of America captures the embodiment of the master dreamer in his element.  Leading up to Walt and Roy’s passings and the evolution of the studio through shakier times, the onsite productions of Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Pete’s Dragon and the ahead of its time Tron are given notices before an animation renaissance and new leadership regime would redeem Disney as the world’s leader in family entertainment.  Beautifully showcasing the latest advancements and expansions to the studio through their acquisitions of ABC, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel and Lucasfilm, Clark and Cline’s The Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember gives Disney lovers a fascinating guided tour through the rich history of the magical moments and immeasurable productions brought to life on the ever-changing lands that Walt built.

    Available now from Disney Editions, The Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • Disney Villains: Delightfully Evil - The Creation, The Inspiration, The Fascination by Jen Darcy Book Review

    Disney Villains: Delightfully Evil - The Creation, The Inspiration, The Fascination by Jen Darcy

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Tracing an illustrious eight decades of animated classics, Disney Villains: Delightfully Evil - The Creation, The Inspiration, The Fascination by Jen Darcy explores the wicked yet, charismatic antagonists of Walt Disney Animation and Pixar Animation Studios’ beloved masterworks.  Divided into 11 uniquely categorized chapters, Darcy’s celebration of all things evil provides informative blurbs on Disney legends such as the Evil Queen, Captain Hook, Ursula and Shere Khan to modern day miscreants including, Dr. Facilier, Yokai, Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear and Syndrome.  In addition to excellent photographs, sketches and storyboards, each character arrives with informative facts regarding their film’s release date, voice talent and assigned animators that brought them to life.  Extending beyond the reach of the silver screen, Darcy takes several detours to examine the villains who populate the many Disney Parks around the world and their respective attractions plus, samplings of some Disney evildoers’ most foreboding lairs and their stylish means of transportation.  

    While heroes’ strengths are commonly determined by the value of their dark hearted opposites, Disney Villains: Delightfully Evil - The Creation, The Inspiration, The Fascination by Jen Darcy is a rewarding catalog of pop culture’s most revered baddies that have brought conflict to the poor unfortunate souls of Disney’s finest features.  Colorfully laid out and breezily written, Darcy’s encyclopedia of antagonists covers the merely misunderstood and those rotten to the core with such glowing admiration that all readers won’t help but find the lighthearted fun in being a little bad through these timeless titans.

    Available now from Disney Editions, Disney Villains: Delightfully Evil - The Creation, The Inspiration, The Fascination can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • An Animator’s Gallery: Eric Goldberg Draws the Disney Characters by David A. Bossert Book Review

    An Animator’s Gallery: Eric Goldberg Draws the Disney Characters by David A. Bossert

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Highlighting the artistic abilities of famed Disney Supervising Animator Eric Goldberg, David A. Bossert’s latest opus gives readers a brief history into Goldberg’s earliest attractions to animation and his lifelong appreciation for iconic caricaturist Al Hirschfield.  Perfecting his skills at Richard Williams’ New York and London studios before beginning his career at the Walt Disney Animation Studios, Goldberg would ultimately bring to life the memorable characters of Genie in Aladdin, the Danny DeVito voiced Phil of Hercules as well as lending his directing abilities to 1995’s Pocahontas.  Invoking the Hirschfeld touch, Goldberg was selected to draw many of Disney’s iconic characters for placement in the halls of the Roy E. Disney Animation Building in Burbank, California.  Presented in their entirety, Goldberg’s brilliantly crafted caricatures from Disney’s Golden Age classics and Pixar’s finest to characters from Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas showcase the exquisite detail and emotional value these enduring creations continue to have on audiences, all from one remarkably talented hand.  A visual feast and well deserved celebration of Goldberg’s distinguished talent, An Animator’s Gallery: Eric Goldberg Draws the Disney Characters is an essential volume for animation enthusiasts.

    Available now from Disney Editions, An Animator’s Gallery: Eric Goldberg Draws the Disney Characters can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • Disney Movie Posters: From Steamboat Willie to Inside Out by Kevin Luperchio and All Aboard: The Wonderful World of Disney Trains by Dana Amendola Book Reviews

    Disney Movie Posters: From Steamboat Willie to Inside Out by Kevin Luperchio

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Highlighting the lush history of Disney’s most memorable promotional materials, Kevin Luperchio’s Disney Movie Posters: From Steamboat Willie to Inside Out provides readers with a look back at the art and advances made in the crafting of Disney’s infamous posters.  Collecting over 135 posters from Disney’s earliest short subjects including the Alice Comedies, Steamboat Willie and the groundbreaking Silly Symphonies to golden age milestones like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio and Dumbo, domestic, international and various rerelease posters are on full display over lavish spreads.  Also documenting live-action highlights from the productions of Treasure Island and Mary Poppins to more recent fare like Hocus Pocus, Pearl Harbor and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Disney’s successful collaborations with Pixar from their classic debut Toy Story to the recently released Inside Out are also included.  While Luperchio’s effort can hardly be considered definitive, Disney Movie Posters: From Steamboat Willie to Inside Out gives art lovers a sizable introduction to some of Disney’s most beloved images of the last 90 years for fans to appreciate on a large canvas.

    Available now from Disney Editions, Disney Movie Posters: From Steamboat Willie to Inside Out can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

    All Aboard: The Wonderful World of Disney Trains by Dana Amendola

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    From his early beginnings in Marceline, Missouri, Walt Disney’s passion and enthusiasm for train culture has been well documented.  Serving as a news butcher on the Missouri Pacific at an impressionable age, Disney’s love affair with all things locomotive would remain an enduring part of his legacy in the formation of his famed studio and enchanting theme parks around the world.  Sharing a personal appreciation for steamers, Dana Amendola’s All Aboard: The Wonderful World of Disney Trains guides readers through a tour of their important place in Disney’s history beginning with Walt’s earliest fascinations, Mickey Mouse’s inspired creation aboard The Chief and the well-researched appearances of trains throughout Disney’s vast film history.  With each section accompanied by “inside track” extended notes and littered with gorgeous still photography, Amendola traces animation legends Ward Kimball and Ollie Johnson’s infatuation with their own backyard railways for reigniting Walt’s love for trains and establishing a close knit bond with their boss over their shared love.  As Disney’s magical flair expanded into the world of theme parks, Amendola covers the unique visual history of the various locomotives circling Disney parks from California to Hong Kong with exquisite concept art on display.  Accompanied with a warm introduction by John Lasseter, All Aboard: The Wonderful World of Disney Trains is a fabulous read for devoted train enthusiasts while, casual fans will be treated to a splendid crash course through the steam powered history that continues to chug along for Disney.

    Available now from Disney Editions, All Aboard: The Wonderful World of Disney Trains can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.