The Queens of Animation: The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History

Nathalia Holt. Hachette, $29 (352p) ISBN 978-0-316-43915-2

In this engrossing history, Holt (Rise of the Rocket Girls) highlights Disney’s largely forgotten female writers and animators. Animation aficionados may know of the studio’s largely female-staffed Ink and Paint department, but the contributions discussed here embraced many other areas. Grace Huntington was the second woman ever hired for Disney’s story department, as well as an avid, record-setting pilot. Artist Sylvia Moberly-Holland supervised key Fantasia and Bambi sequences, while designer Mary Blair masterminded Cinderella’s mid-century modern aesthetic, and was later asked personally by Walt Disney to oversee Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World After All” ride. Despite demonstrating their immense talents, Holt’s subjects faced continual workplace slights and hostilities, from sexual harassment to the denial of credit for their accomplishments. While restoring these women to their rightful place in history, Holt also covers the evolution of Disney’s animated features, such as how the studio continually integrated new technological innovations, including the multiplane camera, stop-motion animation, Technicolor, and many others. Going up to the present to highlight how women have continued to play key roles in making films like Brave and Frozen, Holt’s thorough and enchanting account will be a must-read for Disney enthusiasts and champions of women’s artistic contributions. Agent: Laurie Abkemeier, DeFiore and Company (Oct.)