Review by KC Carlson
“A Wonderful Piece of Eye-Candy!” — Mike Wazowski
“Two thumbs up! Er… what’s a thumb?” — Mater
“Best book since — SQUIRREL!” — Dug
Pixarpedia: A Complete Guide to the World of Pixar… And Beyond! is a lavish, full-color, kid-friendly roundup of everything Pixar. It ranges from a brief history of the company to hints on finding the inside jokes and references in each Pixar film — and everything else in-between!
In fact, calling it “A Complete Guide to the World of Pixar… And Beyond!” may actually be selling it a bit short. Because not only is there plenty of information on the Pixar “stars” like Woody, Buzz, Flik, Sulley, Nemo, Mr. Incredible, Lightning McQueen, Remy, WALL*E, and Carl Fredricksen, but also covered are all your favorite PIxar supporting characters, including Mr. Potato Head, Tuck and Roll, Jessie, Roz, Dory, Edna Mode, Mater, Anton Ego, M-O, and Dug. Believe it or not, pretty much EVERY character who ever spoke a line (or got a laugh) or even just appeared in the background in a Pixar movie is included — Headless Doll (and Headless Doll’s Sister!), Poo Poo Platter Waiter, Amy, Harley P. Gerson, Two Pelicans, Snug, Petrol Pulaski, Ambrister, BRL-A, and Omega! Now that’s detailed! (Can you I.D. them all? Bet your kid can!)
Besides a plot summary for each film, there are also details on the fantastic locales and settings for all of them, including Pizza Planet, Bug City, Al’s Toy Barn, Monsteropolis, Coral Reef, Nomanisan Island, Radiator Springs, Remy’s Paris, The Axiom, and Paradise Falls.
There’s also lots of info on all of Pixar’s short features from the very beginning (Luxo Jr., starring the Luxo lamp that has become Pixar’s trademark) all the way to Partly Cloudy, starring Gus the cloud and Peck the loyal delivery stork (which appeared with Pixar’s latest feature, Up). These short features are fan favorites, ranging from the wildly hysterical (For The Birds, Lifted, Presto) to heartwarming (Geri’s Game, Boundin’). Little do most viewers know that these short films are usually experiments for trying new and different computer techniques.
The illustrations (mostly stills from the films themselves) are wonderful and eye-catching. Besides the pictures of all the Pixar characters, there are dozens of other shots from the films, many of them presented as huge 2-page spreads. The shot of the Incredibles’ family embracing after their fight on the island is almost worth the entire price of the book. Many of these spreads are poster-worthy!
While the bulk of this 350-page oversized hardcover is taken up with kid-centric descriptions of all the characters and films, there is also a a section in the back of the book which offers “A Closer Look” at each of the films. Here you will find the Major Credits for each film (including a list of the Voice Talent) and “Fascinating Facts”, key trivia (like the cover date of the Life Magazine shown in Toy Story 2 being director John Lasseter’s birth date). Plus, there are clues to finding some of Pixar’s (and Disney) running jokes – “Spot the Pizza Planet Truck,” Hidden Mickeys, John Ratzenberger (his voice appears in every Pixar feature! Do you know where?), and “A113″, the now-famous classroom number at CalArts, where a number of leading animators (including some key Pixar staff) learned their trade. And speaking of the Pixar staff, a key member of each film gets to comment on the film in this section.
The Forward is by Andrew Stanton, the writer and director of Academy Award-winning Best Animated Films Finding Nemo and WALL*E. Stanton has played a role (occasionally, literally as a voice actor) in every Pixar feature and is the writer/director of John Carter of Mars for Pixar, scheduled for 2012 release.
Pixarpedia is one of the best coffee-table books ever produced for an audience too young for coffee. While it may be a little bit lightweight for the adult Pixar fan, every imaginative young child who’s ever seen a Pixar film (i.e. pretty much every kid on the planet) would love this book as a wonderful holiday gift.
(A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)