Book Review: “The Art of Strange World” Explores New Themes, Characters and Adventures

The latest “art of” book in the stellar series published by Chronicle Books is based on the visually stunning, awe-inspiring new adventure that is Strange World.

Strange World, the newest feature film from Walt Disney Animation Studios, follows the Clade family as they voyage deep into an unpredictable and treacherous land. The Art of Strange World is the ultimate guide to navigating that land, the characters, the adventure and the behind-the-scenes magic of Disney’s animation film process. It explores in striking visual and written detail the creative process that makes such dazzling storytelling possible. It is filled with fantastical creatures, enchanting landscapes, colorful concept art, illustrative storyboards and character sketches. It also includes exclusive insight from the creative minds at Disney and celebrates the hard work that has gone into the latest thrill-seeking film from the masters of animation.

As expected, the art is beautiful in this book, though I equally enjoyed the preface, foreword, and written commentary. Executive Producer and Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee notes that recent films including Frozen, Moana and Encanto have portrayed an exciting range of female characters and “expanded the idea of what a Disney heroine can be.” Now, Lee acknowledges that Strange World gave the creative team an opportunity to do the same with new heroes. Director Don Hall speaks to the generational focus of this film and its relationship with exploration and caring for the land. Interesting and insightful stuff abounds within these pages for animation-savvy fans and broader Disney fans alike.

An exciting behind-the-scenes tour follows the preface and foreword in The Art of Strange World. It is jam-packed with visuals of all shapes and sizes. The text also provides for a rich and immersive reading experience – it is a snapshot from the very best in the business. It is always fun to stumble upon research trivia, stories on set, and any other tidbits the artists and creators care to share.

Something different I noticed in The Art of Strange World compared to previous books in the series is the “Why Am I Telling This Story?” section. This section charts themes and fundamental questions that underpin the story’s evolution and provides a guide of what is to come in the book. It is an excellent addition and yet another great tool that thrusts readers from their reading chair directly into the behind-the-scenes movie-making magic.

The Art of Strange World landed on bookshelves on November 1, 2022. The film debuted in theatres on November 22, 2022.

Jess Salafia Ward
Jess Salafia Ward is an Aussie, an attorney and a die-hard Disney fan. She grew up in a city not too far from P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney; and she still enjoys dancing around in Snow White pajamas and serenading her family members with Sleeping Beauty’s “Once Upon A Dream” (though, unlike Princess Aurora, she is not blessed with the gift of song). Jess is an Elvis-lover like Lilo, and when she doesn't have her nose stuck in a book, she delights in sharing with fellow fans all things Disney, books, movies and history.