- Posted by Johanna on July 29, 2013 at 7:55 am
- Category: Books and Prose
- CREDITS: by Waltby Waltby Walt
- PUBLISHER: Universe; $19.95 US
From 1934-1944, Good Housekeeping ran a regular feature where Disney animated film shorts were retold on one page, accompanied by painted color illustrations. Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Tales reprints these in a lovely hardcover format, creating an upscale picture book.
Now, given that description, a good portion of the audience will know already whether they want this book or not. But let me keep going, to whet the curiosity of the rest of you.
The volume is slim, 64 pages, but beautiful. The pictures feature the older versions of the characters, before they were streamlined into their brand-friendly, smoother, younger-looking incarnations today. And the illustration work is gorgeous, full of detail and movement, capturing the exciting moment. The artists are unfortunately uncredited — I’m not sure anyone today knows who did all of them, although the press release mentions Tom Wood and Hank Porter — but they clearly know their stuff.
The longest section of the book is dedicated to Mickey Mouse, but Donald Duck also gets some focus, with shorter sections for “Goofy & Pluto” and “Silly Symphony”. Surprisingly, Goofy stars in one of my favorites, “The Art of Self-Defense”, because the art is so active, and the lesson so smart. Another neat discovery was “Mickey’s Rival”, where the bragging Mortimer Mouse gets in the middle of Mickey and Minnie’s picnic. The “Silly Symphony” section has retellings of such classics as “The Big Bad Wolf”, “The Wise Little Hen”, “The Tortoise and the Hare”, and “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod”.
Each cartoon has a page, with five or six spot illustrations. The surprising thing to me was that the events are narrated in verse! The rhyme schemes differ, from paired couplets to ABCB (most common) to one odd little piece (“Don Donald“) that’s done as AAAB. I realized, as I was looking up examples of the cartoons online to compare them with the pages, that this book was a very early VCR. At a time when you saw the cartoons only while they were still in your local theater, these magazine pages were a way to remember and enjoy again the antics of your favorite characters. Nowadays, it would be fun to read aloud with a younger person. (The publisher provided a review copy.)