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Disney Block: art by Peskimo (book review).

October 27, 2020 | By | Reply More

Out of all the books I’ve ever reviewed, the ‘Disney Block’ is probably the hardest to write about. I think part of my difficulty stems from the fact that I can’t quite figure out who it’s aimed at. I’m in my mid-30s and have an almost 3 year-old daughter, so it seemed like something we could enjoy together. I’ve seen most of the main animated Disney films apart from some that came out in the last few years and always enjoy a good singalong.

My daughter is just starting to discover them and I thought that looking at pictures from different films might give us a starting point to pick which ones she might enjoy next. Ultimately, what I found was that it didn’t really work for either of us.

For those of you not familiar with the Abrams ‘Block Books’, what you get is a very hefty but compact book you could probably use for self-defence with thick cardboard pages like the kind you find in books for very young children board books. In the ‘Disney Block’ there are two double pages devoted to each film with a quote from that film split between them and some kind of cut-away edge or peep-through element to link the two pages. It runs in chronological order, starting with Snow White (1937) and going right up to Frozen 2 (2019), although not every Disney animated feature is included. For the ones that are omitted, there’s a busy double page at the end with elements from a lot of them scattered around a child’s bedroom.

I enjoyed looking through this book when I first received it. For many of the films, it provided a nice feeling of reminiscence because I’ve not seen quite a few of them since I was much younger. I did find some of the quotes to be odd choices that didn’t really give a feel for the films they represented and think that some of them are such generic phrases that they could have come from any Disney film. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the stylised illustrations used, which felt like caricatures of the Disney artwork and I thought it was a shame they couldn’t use original images from the films.

My daughter also enjoyed looking through this with me to an extent. The pages were thick enough for her to turn on her own and she liked the shaped edges and peek-a-boo sections, but trying to read the quotes to her soon left her feeling bored and it didn’t bring any of that famous Disney magic to our household. The one feature that she did really enjoy was hunting for the hidden Mickey Mouse shapes on each page, although we both felt a bit cheated when they repeated on both pages of a film’s image instead of hiding Mickey somewhere new.

While this is a nicely formatted book and is good for a quick flick through, what’s lacking is any kind of re-readability. Having looked through it once I feel like I’ve got everything out of this that I can, and even my daughter was bored of looking for Mickey after two or three plays with it. I can understand why a real Disney aficionado might like to add this to their collection, but for the casual fan it’s a novelty that probably doesn’t deliver much past the first read.

Vinca Russell

October 2020

(pub: Abrams Appleseed, 2020. 102 page block book. Price: £11.99 (UK), $16.99 (US), $21.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-4197-4057-2)

check out websites: www.abramsappleseed.com and www.abrambooks.com

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Category: Books, Illustration

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