If you look on any child’s bookshelf, I’m sure you will see at least on golden spine which is the instantly recognizable hallmark of The Little Golden Books. Integral to many of our childhoods, The Little Golden Books have been helping to teach children how to read since 1942. For 25 cents (in the 1940’s) a child could purchase a Little Golden Book and embark on an adventure of imagination. The beautiful illustrations, often recognizable characters, and engaging story lines have all led to the success of The Little Golden Books. But, as Disney fans, how does this landmark in children’s literature relate to our fan community?
The Little Golden Books has a rich history with the Walt Disney Company, one that is explored in Disney Editions newest coffee table book The Art of the Disney Golden Books, currently available for $35.00. Charles Solomon, the author, is an instantly recognizable name to bibliophile Disney fans. Many of his other Disney related titles are key volumes in any Disney fan’s library. Such titles authored by Solomon include; Disney Lost and Found, The Disney That Never Was, and The Toy Story Films. Solomon is an experienced Disney historian who continues to compile new and interesting information to share with the Disney community at large. His most recent 160 page adventure into the world of The Little Golden Books does not disappoint.
The Art of the Disney Golden Books offers a very brief foray into the history of The Little Golden Books and Walt Disney Company professional relationship. It is important to keep in mind that this is not a book about the inception and company history of The Little Golden Books. In fact, I felt that the short history offered was a little too brief for my taste, I enjoy knowing the “how” and “why”, the gritty details if you will. However, I had to remind myself that this book is about the illustrations opposed to the history. For those wanting to explore the history solely of The Little Golden Books there is currently a book available that details this topic. It is entitled Golden Legacy: How Golden Books Won Children’s Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever, and Became An American Icon Along the Way and authored by Leonard S. Marcus. My enjoyment of this new Disney work was not diminished by any means.
The Art of the Disney Golden Books does not feature every book in the Golden Book-Disney collection, nor does it include a complete bibliography, this would be extremely lengthy wasting precious space that could be better utilized. (There have been well over 600 titles of Little Golden Books released throughout the decades!) Instead, the material is presented by featuring the Disney studio artists who illustrated the majority of the original Little Golden Book classics as well as focusing on the artwork as a circular structure, each step inspiring the next in an endless round of innovations. The illustrations are beautifully represented in bright vivid colors and in various sizes. Some illustrations take up the entire page allowing the reader to fully engage in the simple details and impeccable artistry while others are formatted in a smaller version. These reduced examples are just as enticing and offer luscious tidbits that truly capture the reader’s imagination. This book is not all artwork as text is distributed throughout. Often the text features quotes from current Walt Disney creative cast members recounting how The Disney Little Golden Books influenced their artistic maturity. If you are not interested in reading the text, the representations of the artwork are captivating enough that you will still find immense pleasure perusing this book.
Charles Solomon has created a book that leaves the reader wanting more; more artwork, more lively colors, more beautifully simplistic designs. It has inspired me to rush to the children’s section of my local library and peruse the offerings on various websites to seek out complete copies of the books featured. I hope you feel just as motivated!