Book Reviews

Book Review: "The Art of Cars 3" is a Terrific Companion Piece to the Disney-Pixar Film

Hi everyone!

The Art of Cars 3 from Chronicle Books recently released, we received it along with The Color of Pixar to review this week. I have long been a fan of the "Art of" books, the last one I purchased was The Art of Moana, and I wrote a review of it here. Other favorites include The Art of Tangled and The Art of Ratatouille, but there are so many excellent books in the series now. The Art of Cars 3 is another winner for anyone who enjoys concept art from animated films and especially for those who love Disney-Pixar's Cars 3. I really enjoy this book, which is handsomely presented with a beautiful, high quality animated cover and 128 pages of Cars 3 artwork.

Just as with The Color of Pixar, John Lasseter writes a foreword. He talks about creating Cars 3, how Lightning McQueen goes from new race car to being a veteran in the field of racers. And he talks about how it can take 4-5+ years to create an animated film, so Pixar doesn't make a movie unless they are excited about it.

The preface is by director Brian Fee, who tells a touching story about passing along his love for drawing to his young daughter even when he didn't realize at first that she was listening.

Following that, there is an introduction by production designers Bill Cone and Jay Shuster that really sets the stage for the book itself, including about a field trip they took to the Daytona 500 and other racing facilities.

There is a lot of terrific concept art inside The Art of Cars 3 - even a fun caricature of Richard Petty by story supervisor Scott Morse, who had dinner with Petty as part of a research trip.

Like other "Art of" books, there is a plethora of art, from concept to realized. There are notes on how cars were created, like Jackson Storm was designed to scare Lightning Mcqueen with his "low profile/wide stance". There are a couple of pages that storyboard McQueen's big crash, and about the reaction they wanted from the audience. There are a number of pages dedicated to Cruz, how they designed her and how her story came about. She and her design were an evolving process, moreso than it seems any other character was.

The Art of Cars 3 also includes more information about the different cars themselves, and about locations and how they were chosen/designed. Like in North Carolina, their travels led to the "ruins of the Occoneechee Speedway, one of NASCAR's first two tracks in their inaugural 1949 season" as well as the North Wilkesboro Speedway - both were used to help design Doc Hudson's home track. And as we get toward the end of the book, there is concept art of deleted scenes.

The Art of Cars 3 is a terrific companion piece to the film.

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Book Review: "The Color of Pixar" Evokes a Range of Emotions

Hi everyone!

The Color of Pixar from Chronicle Books released this week, we received a review copy the day it came out. The official description of the book says:

Bold and beautiful, this volume presents hundreds of film stills from the Pixar archives in a glorious spectrum of color. Starting with bright white images and seamlessly flowing through the colors of the rainbow, it becomes crystal clear how each frame tells a story.

The book is a little smaller sizewise than I expected, though at 352 pages, there is a lot to look at - it isn't small in length. When I first opened the book, I did a quick flip-through. This isn't the best way to really enjoy The Color of Pixar in my opinion. There is no writing on the pages after the foreward by John Lasseter and introduction by Tia Kratter, who was a shader art director at Pixar for almost 20 years (she currently manages Pixar University art and film education classes). The Color of Pixar really is eye candy and the photos best enjoyed like looking at art in a museum.

In the foreward, Lasseter says that the frames in the book were meant to be seen in the blink of an eye, the 1/24th of a second that they appear on the screen. So instead of the blink of an eye, this allows the reader to enjoy one frame for as long he or she wants. And not every frame will be of interest to everybody. Pixar movies range from Toy Story to the upcoming Coco, and the book runs the full gamut - including Ratatouille (my favorite Pixar film), Inside Out, A Bug's Life, the other two Toy Story films and more.

Recently we saw The Music of Pixar Live! at Disney's Hollywood Studios. It really hit me during the show - featuring a variety of film clips with a live orchestra playing - how emotional most Pixar films are. Not that I didn't know it, but I experienced those emotions in a new way. Each film resonates with an audience in a way that a lot of other movies may not. For example, the movie Up is romantic, at times very sad, and funny in other moments...it speaks to adults as well as kids but differently at the same time. Seeing the artwork from the film, like with a frame of Carl and Ellie during a picnic or just a photo frame of the so familiar house...it can recall an emotion from watching the movie.

The Color of Pixar is for those who really enjoy Pixar and artwork, because that is what this book offers in abundance. And at the price point, it is a nice volume.

This review includes affiliate links.

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Book Review: Mickey and the Roadster Racers Race for the Rigatoni Ribbon

Mickey and the Roadster Racers Race for the Rigatoni Ribbon came out earlier this year, but we recently received a copy to review. The book was adapted by Sherri Stoner, a writer/producer/actress who is familiar to many.

The book is geared toward young readers, and features Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Goofy as they get ready for the Race for the Rigatoni Ribbon in Italy. They take the track in Rome on the second page against Piston Pietro. Goofy ends up stopping for food and Minnie and Daisy make an impromptu visit to a shoe store - and eventually the racers gets chased by a giant meatball.

Mickey and the Roadster Racers Race for the Rigatoni Ribbon is a cute Disney Junior book, recommended age range is 2-5 and that is pretty accurate. I wouldn't expect kids much older than that to be as interested. There are 4 trading type cards at the back of the 24 page book.
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Book Review: "Cars 3 Read-Along Storybook and CD" Will Delight Young Disney-Pixar "Cars" Fans

We received the Cars 3 Read-Along Storybook and CD to review. The book released earlier this month, and offers a lot of bang for the very small price. Featuring the original movie voices including Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen and Armie Hammer as Jackson Storm, the CD is easy to follow along with and the narration by David Jeremiah is well paced. The sounds of racing and music add to the story. I highly recommend this for kids, but...this is the story of Cars 3. There are major spoilers. The movie comes out on June 16, 2017 - so you might want to set aside the book until then. I read/listened until the last 4 or 5 pages. I already knew some of the story, now I know more - but I didn't want to know how the film ends. I do think most young Disney Cars fans will enjoy the Cars 3 Read-Along Storybook and CD and will want to listen to it again and again - especially until the film comes out for home viewing. The book pairs well with the Cars Read-Along Storybook and CD and the Cars 2 Read-Along Storybook and CD. For more Cars 3 reading fun, check out my review of 5 Minute Racing Stories.

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Book Review: "The Not-So-Evil Stepmother in the Most Magical Place on Earth: Planning Your Walt Disney World Family Vacation"

I was sent the book "The Not-So-Evil Stepmother in the Most Magical Place on Earth: Planning Your Walt Disney World Family Vacation" to review. As someone who is in the Walt Disney World parks several days per week, almost every week and has been visiting for 40 years, I rarely read planning books but our readers and viewers are always looking for helpful tips for the parks. The author, Trisha Daab, is a mom (and stepmom) who has traveled with as many as 11 family members at one time, and the chapters are separated into various trips taken or as she describes it, "...four Disney experiences with multiple chapters within each experience".  In the intro, she sets it up where it won't be like other planning guides - but more like "having coffee and a chat with a clever friend who is telling you about her Disney trips while helping you plan your own'".

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