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Walt Disney: Drawn from Imagination
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Gr 4-6 Scollon’s biography merges personal and professional episodes into historical context. The book is well organised, punctuated with brief anecdotes, photos, memories, and facts. Chapter titles incorporate early Disney characters, illustrated by Brown, and foreshadow the next major theme. The last is especially sentimental, with Mickey and Pluto, their backs to readers, fishing on the end of dock as the sun sets. Though Disney nurtured a creative community of artists, he was also a devoted family man-so much so that his daughter had to ask if he was “the” Walt Disney. This informative title will appeal to those interested in the life and work of an artistic genius and the development of animation, from a single cartoon frame to a full-length movie. Although the book lacks an index, the “Discussion Questions” are ideal for book clubs and read-alouds. Whitney Stewart’s Who Was Walt Disney (Grossett and Dunlap, 2009) is written at a lower level and relies solely on black-and-white drawings, while Judith Pinkerton Josephson’s Walt Disney: Genius of Entertainment (Enslow, 2006), with its impressive chapter notes, is more conducive to research. Walt Disney: His Life in Pictures, edited by Russell Schroeder (Disney Press, 2009), is a photo biography that easily complements any biography. Scollon’s engaging work fills a niche. Sharon Lawler, Texas Bluebonnet Award Committee—SLJ
The name Disney conjures up all sorts of things: cartoons, Mickey Mouse, amusement parks. But once, it was simply the last name of a kid growing up on a farm in Missouri, and then in the urban environment of Kansas City. He had to work hard as a kid, but he always drew, too. Lucky enough to be born in an age of new entertainment industries, he took the public’s fascination with movies to new heights. Although there were certainly down moments in his career and near bankruptcy, Disney always managed to bounce back. This introduction to Disney gives readers a feel for the young Walt and the things in his background that accounted for his success, including his ability to dream big. One might expect that a biography published by Disney Press would accentuate the positive, and this does. There is nothing about Disney’s anti-Semitism or the fact that Disney would not hire women for key positions. As a baseline biography, though, this works, and discussion questions will be useful for teachers. To be illustrated with photos. – Ilene Cooper—Booklist
A squeaky-clean biography of the original Mouseketeer. Scollon begins with the (to say the least) arguable claim that Disney grew up to “define and shape what would come to be known as the American Century.” Following this, he retraces Disney’s life and career, characterising him as a visionary whose only real setbacks came from excess ambition or at the hands of unscrupulous film distributors. Disney’s brother Roy appears repeatedly to switch between roles as encourager and lead doubter, but except in chapters covering his childhood, the rest of his family only puts in occasional cameos. Unsurprisingly, there is no mention of Disney’s post World War II redbaiting, and his most controversial film, Song of the South, gets only a single reference (and that with a positive slant). More puzzling is the absence of Mary Poppins from the tally of Disney triumphs. Still, readers will come away with a good general picture of the filmmaking and animation techniques that Disney pioneered, as well as a highlight history of his studio, television work and amusement parks. Discussion questions are appended: “What do you think were Walt Disney’s greatest accomplishments and why.” Brown’s illustrations not seen. An iconic success story that has often been told before but rarely so one-dimensionally or with such firm adherence to the company line. (bibliography) (Biography. 8-10)—Kirkus
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