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[Nonfiction Wednesday] Goddess Of Many Colours in “Mary Blair’s Unique Flair”

The Girl Who Became One Of The Disney Legends - Mary Blair!

Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2019 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.

Mary Blair’s Unique Flair: The Girl Who Became One Of The Disney Legends

(Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Amy Novesky Illustrated by Brittney Lee
Published by Disney Press (2019)
ISBN: 1484757203 (ISBN13: 9781484757208)
Borrowed via Singapore’s NLB Overdrive. E-Book photos taken by me.

I am not unfamiliar with Mary Blair’s sorcery with colours (hehe, my feeble attempts at connecting the book to our current reading theme). I have reviewed Pocket Full Of Colors by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville and Brigette Barager here (Fats also did a review here). Yet somehow the story seemed still fresh for me in this rendering of Amy Novesky and Brittney Lee.

I like how Mary Blair’s family background was still highlighted in this narrative, and her fascination with colours, and how her parents sacrificed a great deal to provide her with support for her talent. One of the challenges in picturebook biographies is how to condense an entire life story into just a few choice images and to select just a few key highlights from one’s timeline.

Unlike the earlier version which highlighted how different Mary Blair’s vision was from the stodgy all-male employees of Walt Disney, this version of her story did not make mention of the reason why she quit working in an environment that she eventually found to be stifling. But the trip to South America was still portrayed to be a pivotal moment in her creative life:

As I was reading this story, I found myself hoping for just a separate picturebook biography depicting Mary Blair’s trip to South America – the many sights she saw there, and the brilliant colours that eventually fed into what is to be recognized as her major contribution to Disney world – her design of “It’s A Small World.”

While I had hoped that her initial struggles as a woman succeeding in a male-dominated work environment had also been included here, I also appreciated the decidedly-different slant to this version of her story. I enjoyed reading through the Author and Illustrator’s Notes as well found at the end of the book. A more-than-worthy addition to your picturebook biography library.

#WomenReadWomen2019: United States of America (both author and illustrator are from the US)

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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