cover image Walt Disney’s Cinderella

Walt Disney’s Cinderella

, , illus. by Mary Blair. . Disney Press, $16.99 (64pp) ISBN 978-1-4231-0421-6

There has to be a good reason to produce yet another version of this tale, and the opportunity to showcase Blair’s stunning artwork provides it. Before her career in children’s book illustration (I Can Fly! ), Blair was one of the top artists at Walt Disney Studios, where her whimsical style and exuberant palette dominated the design of many classic Disney animated features, including Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan . Animators took their character and color cues from her conceptual paintings, like these Blair created for Disney’s Cinderella (1950), here paired with an elegant retelling by Newbery Medalist Rylant, which begins: “This is a story about darkness and light, about sorrow and joy, about something lost and something found. This is a story about Love.” Aficionados of the film will recognize the multi-turreted castle, the patterned wallpaper, the fanciful backgrounds and stylized flora. The haughty portrait of the evil stepmother, done in exaggerated profile, perfectly captures this imperious villain with “black longing” in her heart. Blair’s Cinderella, however, is not the honeyed version of the film, but a straw-haired waif with a downcast demeanor. Children familiar with the film may also wonder where the singing mice are. Indeed, while pint-size romantics will lap this up, the book’s greatest appeal may lie with students and fans of Disneyana. Here’s a picture book that will find its way onto collectors’ shelves, as well as onto the syllabi of college film and design courses. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)