We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2018 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.
The magical world of Mary Blair, Disney artist extraordinaire
Written by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville
Illustrated by Brigette Barrager
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (2017)
Copy provided by Twinsburg Public Library. Book photos by me.
“Under a wide blue sky,
on a red dirt-road,
in a lemon-yellow house,
there lived a little girl named Mary.
Other children collected marbles or dolls,
but Mary collected colors
of every shade and every hue.”
So begins the story of Mary Blair, an artist through and through. Mary was an imaginative child and she loved colors. Growing up, Mary enjoyed “collecting” them: lemon, taupe, azure, steel-gray, and mauve, among others. Mary saw beyond black and white.
When Mary and her family moved to California, Mary became inspired and mixed her paints, creating a variety of shades and hues. She saved these color combinations for future use. She met her husband Lee in art school.
Mary Blair became one of the first women to be hired at Walt Disney Studios. She was in her happy place—except she worked with men who did not appreciate colors. Mary’s colors were a little too bright, a little too wild for their tastes. After going on a trip to South America, Mary’s co-workers became receptive of her ideas. Sort of. (I have a feeling that these men were intimidated by the talent and vision of a woman like Mary Blair and were too embarrassed to admit it.)
Mary left Walt Disney Studios to pursue her wildest dreams—and discover even wilder colors! She designed ads and illustrated children’s books. She missed working with Walt. When the opportunity to work with him again presented itself, Mary agreed to work on the project on one condition: she must be in charge. During the 1964 New York World’s Fair, Disney’s attraction, It’s a Small World, became a sensation.
Pocket Full of Colors is chock full of whimsy! I enjoyed reading every page and seeing every mention of a color beyond the basic yellow, red, and blue. I have seen Mary Blair’s work in Cynthia Rylant’s adaptation of Cinderella and Jon Scieszka’s adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. It was fun learning more about Blair’s life and her struggles as a female artist working in a male-dominated world. I like Blair’s unconventional designs and color variations. This book is perfect for artists, colorists, and color enthusiasts. Grab a copy for summer reading this year!