The best books about Walt Disney

2 authors have picked their favorite books about Walt Disney and why they recommend each book.

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Walt Disney's Bambi

By Disney Book Group,

Book cover of Walt Disney's Bambi: The Sketchbook Series

Bambi, Sleeping Beauty, and Peter Pan are also part of this series. This compilation of drawings by master animators Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Milt Kahl, Mark Davis, John Lounsbery, storyman Joe Grant and more are truly encouraging and inspiring. Before the drawings are passed along to the clean-up stage, we see the unique and beautiful drawings of the animators with the circles for heads and construction lines visible used to convey balance, proportion, perspective, silhouette, and attitude, all while drawing the character on model. We will all have a greater appreciation for the level of drawing mastery shared inside the pages of these books. 


Who am I?

I've been drawing for over 68 years and carrying a sketchbook for over 60 of those years. I've seen success as an author, I'm an award-winning illustrator of books and magazines and animated many classic Disney features. Am I an expert on sketching humans and animals? ...No. I'm constantly learning in my effort to capture humans and animals in action by following the basic principles of drawing as they apply to quick sketching. My learning is aided by these books as I prepare lesson plans or the encouragement and inspiration found within their pages. I'm married to LaVonne, my high school sweetheart of 50 years, and have three grown children and six grandchildren.


I wrote...

Quick Sketching with Ron Husband

By Ron Husband,

Book cover of Quick Sketching with Ron Husband

What is my book about?

One of the benefits quick sketching has given me is that it has sharpened my ability to analyze actions quickly. I now look at human and animal movement and see their basic shapes, the various shapes it is composed of as a whole and individually. I am able to quickly recognize special relationships between my subject or subjects; how far an arm is away from the body, the distance one foot is from another in a walk, or how one body relates to another in space. Seeing both the negative and positive shapes as equally important has given me control over my quick sketches. I am definitely a better artist today because of what quick sketching has caused me to focus my artistic attention on. 

The Pinkish, Purplish, Bluish Egg

By Bill Peet,

Book cover of The Pinkish, Purplish, Bluish Egg

This was my favourite book as a kid, and I still love it now. Bill Peet is an incredible author and artist, who also did amazing work for Walt Disney. Many of his books are about finding the gift in your uniqueness, where the thing that makes the main character an outcast, the butt of jokes, ends up being the thing that makes them special in the end. 

The Pinkish, Purplish, Bluish Egg does this wonderfully as Zeke, a griffin hatched by a pigeon, finds his heart, courage, and uniqueness to save the very birds who had wanted to exile him.


Who am I?

I am obsessed with personal development, having attended seminars to walk across hot coals and jump from crazy heights to test my limits, and I have read hundreds of books and watched hundreds of videos on self-improvement. But sometimes the best lessons come in fiction, and kid’s books do this so wonderfully. And they are a lot quicker to read and absorb! They also teach with humour, rhythm, and joy, and can change a child’s life simply by letting them escape into a world of laughter and joy, expanding their imaginations, and letting them absorb the lessons, sometimes without even realising it.


I wrote...

How to Catch a Leprechaun

By Adam Wallace, Andy Elkerton (illustrator),

Book cover of How to Catch a Leprechaun

What is my book about?

How to Catch a Leprechaun is a crazy, chaotic St. Patrick’s Day Eve rhyming romp through the houses of kids trying to catch a Leprechaun. With a mixture of slapstick, STEM, and escalation, How to Catch a Leprechaun has hit the New York Times Bestseller List four years in a row leading up to St Patrick’s Day.

Of Mice and Magic

By Leonard Maltin,

Book cover of Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons

This landmark survey of American animation, published more than forty years ago, remains an essential guide to the subject. Maltin’s passion for classic cartoons is evident in the depth of his research and in the infectious enthusiasm of his writing. For beginners unfamiliar with cartoon history, Of Mice and Magic is a delightful introduction; but even for the seasoned enthusiast, it provides gratifying coverage of both the established classics and the more obscure discoveries. I thoroughly enjoyed this book when it first appeared, and I still return to it periodically.


Who am I?

Like so many others, I discovered Disney in childhood. When I was five years old my parents took me to see a Disney movie in a theater, and the experience was so overwhelming that I still recall it vividly. It was the beginning of a lifelong passion for classic films, a passion that has led me to a career as a film historian. For me, writing a book about a film is mainly an excuse to do the research, to get inside a film and explore it, and find out what makes it tick. It’s invariably a fascinating journey, and if I can share that fascination with readers, I’m happy.


I wrote...

Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic

By J.B. Kaufman,

Book cover of Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic

What is my book about?

Pinocchio, Walt Disney’s second feature-length film, was nothing less than epic in its vision and the magnitude of its technical achievement, and is acknowledged today as one of the pinnacles of the animated film. This volume recounts the full fascinating history of the making of the film—based on years of archival research and interviews with the surviving filmmakers—and is sumptuously illustrated with images that celebrate the lush visual magic of Pinocchio.

For good measure there is a special chapter by renowned scholar Russell Merritt, and a foreword by the distinguished animation historian John Canemaker, as well as appendices detailing complete Pinocchio production credits, and later screen appearances of Figaro the kitten and Jiminy Cricket.

Walt Disney's Nine Old Men and the Art of Animation

By John Canemaker,

Book cover of Walt Disney's Nine Old Men and the Art of Animation

An Academy Award®-winning animator in his own right, John Canemaker has combined his firsthand knowledge of the craft with superior writing skills to produce a series of outstanding books on animation history. You can pretty much close your eyes, pick any one of Canemaker’s books at random, and come up with a winner. But I’m highlighting this one as the definitive study of the “Nine Old Men,” the Disney artists widely recognized as the leading masters of animation. For each of the nine, Canemaker provides a detailed biography and a cogent analysis of the artist’s work, heavily illustrated. It’s a fitting testament to a royal legacy of talent.


Who am I?

Like so many others, I discovered Disney in childhood. When I was five years old my parents took me to see a Disney movie in a theater, and the experience was so overwhelming that I still recall it vividly. It was the beginning of a lifelong passion for classic films, a passion that has led me to a career as a film historian. For me, writing a book about a film is mainly an excuse to do the research, to get inside a film and explore it, and find out what makes it tick. It’s invariably a fascinating journey, and if I can share that fascination with readers, I’m happy.


I wrote...

Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic

By J.B. Kaufman,

Book cover of Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic

What is my book about?

Pinocchio, Walt Disney’s second feature-length film, was nothing less than epic in its vision and the magnitude of its technical achievement, and is acknowledged today as one of the pinnacles of the animated film. This volume recounts the full fascinating history of the making of the film—based on years of archival research and interviews with the surviving filmmakers—and is sumptuously illustrated with images that celebrate the lush visual magic of Pinocchio.

For good measure there is a special chapter by renowned scholar Russell Merritt, and a foreword by the distinguished animation historian John Canemaker, as well as appendices detailing complete Pinocchio production credits, and later screen appearances of Figaro the kitten and Jiminy Cricket.

Babies

By Gyo Fujikawa,

Book cover of Babies

This old standby is one of the most memorable picture board books; I still recall reading it when I was four. Illustrating babies in all spaces and of all colors, Fujikawa makes the reader yearn to play with them. Fujikawa (1908–1998), designed many books for the Walt Disney Company, including promotional work on the movie Fantasia. But her work in Babies is not so cartoony as much as illustrated pen and ink. A keeper.


Who am I?

I have published over 50 books, including award-winning and bestselling titles. I am also a publishing executive and editor with 20+ years of professional experience. My latest The Twins of Auschwitz: The Inspiring True Story of  Young Girl Surviving Mengele’s Hell, with Eva Kor, got a stellar review by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and is an international bestseller. As well as spearheading four publishing startups, I have run my own business, Editorial Services of L.A. I was Editorial/Publishing Director for Golden Books, Price Stern Sloan, Intervisual Books, Hooked on Phonics, and more. I am also the Publisher & Editor in Chief of NY Journal Of Books, the premier online-only book review site.


I wrote...

The Twins of Auschwitz: The inspiring true story of a young girl surviving Mengele's hell

By Eva Mozes Kor, Lisa Rojany,

Book cover of The Twins of Auschwitz: The inspiring true story of a young girl surviving Mengele's hell

What is my book about?

Eva Mozes Kor was just ten years old when she arrived in Auschwitz. While her parents and two older sisters were taken to the gas chambers, she and her twin, Miriam, were herded into the care of the man known as the Angel of Death, Dr. Josef Mengele. Subjected to sadistic medical experiments, she was forced to fight daily for her and her twin's survival. In this incredible true story written for young adults, readers learn of a child's endurance and survival in the face of truly extraordinary evil.

The book also includes an epilogue on Eva's recovery from this experience and her remarkable decision to publicly forgive the Nazis. 

Marc Davis

By Disney Book Group, Marc Davis (illustrator),

Book cover of Marc Davis: Walt Disney's Renaissance Man

This book is filled with artwork and sketches that are filled with energy. I love that Mark Davis offers a variety of different styles and development roughs that are so inspiring and make you want to sketch. The value I received from acquiring this book was giving me a greater sense of appreciation for playing with different mediums.

Who am I?

Stephen Silver has been a professional working artist, character designer, and teacher in the industry for over 30 years. He developed intellectual properties for some of the largest media companies in the world; such as Disney, Warner Bros., Nickelodeon, Sony, MAD Magazine, Reel FX, Bento box, Hasbro, Universal, DreamWorks, and more. Stephen is responsible for the visual character development and design of some of animation’s most iconic shows; including Disney’s Kim Possible, Nickelodeon’s Danny Phantom, and Disney’s Clerks: The Animated Series, to name a few.


I wrote...

The Silver Way: Techniques, Tips, and Tutorials for Effective Character Design

By Stephen Silver,

Book cover of The Silver Way: Techniques, Tips, and Tutorials for Effective Character Design

What is my book about?

The Silver Way: Techniques, Tips, and Tutorials for Effective Character Design by Stephen Silver offers invaluable instruction from one of the best teachers in the industry. Whether you’re a professional artist interested in improving your drawing skills, or an aspiring designer fresh out of high school looking to add to your portfolio, The Silver Way will help you build your confidence and strengthen your work in order to successfully design characters for any project, in any style.

Chockfull of helpful—and entertaining!—drawing techniques and easy-to-follow tutorials developed through his decades of experience as an artist on popular animated shows (Kim Possible, Danny Phantom, The Fairly OddParents) and as the owner of Silver Drawing Academy, The Silver Way is the kind of educational art book you’ll revisit again and again for guidance, encouragement, and inspiration.

The Art and Flair of Mary Blair

By John Canemaker, Mary Blair (illustrator),

Book cover of The Art and Flair of Mary Blair: An Appreciation

This book celebrates the artistry and legacy of Walt Disney’s key talents not only in animation but in the theme park attraction design. Mary Blair’s influence can be seen in animated classics like Disney’s Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951), and Peter Pan (1953) to Disneyland’s It’s a Small World and the mural at the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World, just to name a few. In a studio dominated by men, Blair rose to the top based on her talent for design and color styling. A wonderfully written book that showcases an artistic genius who brought magic to every project she worked on at Disney.   


Who am I?

I'm a student of animation and Disney history. As a Disney historian, I find much joy in writing the stories that intrigue and peak my curiosity. Stories that haven't been told or explored in-depth are exciting to bring to life because readers are hungry for new information on the Disney universe. And so am I. In choosing my writing projects it's important that no one else has written more than a cursory amount or nothing at all on the subject matter. I equally like to read books that shed new light on topics that I’m interested in and doing so in an authoritative voice. I hope you will enjoy the selection of books listed here.    


I wrote...

Claude Coats: Walt Disney's Imagineer: The Making of Disneyland from Toad Hall to the Haunted Mansion and Beyond

By David A. Bossert,

Book cover of Claude Coats: Walt Disney's Imagineer: The Making of Disneyland from Toad Hall to the Haunted Mansion and Beyond

What is my book about?

Claude Coats: Walt Disney’s Imagineer—The Making of Disneyland: From Toad Hall to the Haunted Mansion and Beyond is the story of artist and designer Claude Coats who was one of the most prolific creative talents at The Walt Disney Company and, arguably, the most accomplished.

Coats was handed-picked by Walt Disney, to start the fabled WED Enterprises—now known as Walt Disney Imagineering. Working with Walt Disney, Coats is considered a significant influence in creating the first theme park, Disneyland, and a new form of creativity called Imagineering. He forever changed the worlds of global entertainment and popular culture, building the most iconic and enduring attractions at Disneyland including Alice in Wonderland, The Submarine Voyage, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, and many more.

Disney War

By James B. Stewart,

Book cover of Disney War

This insightful book gives a glimpse into CEO Michael Eisner’s reign at The Walt Disney Company. As one reviewer put it, “Stewart assembles a withering portrait of Eisner as a grasping, self-centered, manipulative, and ultimately self-destructive executive.” Having worked at Disney during this time period, Disney War is the closest account next to actually being there during those turbulent years. A must-read for students of Disney.


Who am I?

I'm a student of animation and Disney history. As a Disney historian, I find much joy in writing the stories that intrigue and peak my curiosity. Stories that haven't been told or explored in-depth are exciting to bring to life because readers are hungry for new information on the Disney universe. And so am I. In choosing my writing projects it's important that no one else has written more than a cursory amount or nothing at all on the subject matter. I equally like to read books that shed new light on topics that I’m interested in and doing so in an authoritative voice. I hope you will enjoy the selection of books listed here.    


I wrote...

Claude Coats: Walt Disney's Imagineer: The Making of Disneyland from Toad Hall to the Haunted Mansion and Beyond

By David A. Bossert,

Book cover of Claude Coats: Walt Disney's Imagineer: The Making of Disneyland from Toad Hall to the Haunted Mansion and Beyond

What is my book about?

Claude Coats: Walt Disney’s Imagineer—The Making of Disneyland: From Toad Hall to the Haunted Mansion and Beyond is the story of artist and designer Claude Coats who was one of the most prolific creative talents at The Walt Disney Company and, arguably, the most accomplished.

Coats was handed-picked by Walt Disney, to start the fabled WED Enterprises—now known as Walt Disney Imagineering. Working with Walt Disney, Coats is considered a significant influence in creating the first theme park, Disneyland, and a new form of creativity called Imagineering. He forever changed the worlds of global entertainment and popular culture, building the most iconic and enduring attractions at Disneyland including Alice in Wonderland, The Submarine Voyage, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, and many more.

The Illusion of Life

By Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston,

Book cover of The Illusion of Life

I was privileged to see firsthand these two Disney Legends and their passions for the craft of storytelling through animation. I worked with Frank and Ollie as a young animation trainee. I learned the basics of animation by ‘in-betweening’ scenes primarily for Frank. In addition to ‘in-betweening’ for Frank, he would give me scenes to animate under his supervision. The principles and philosophy of the ‘Disney way’ are explained within the pages of this book and I was fortunate to have absorbed them firsthand.

Applying the principles of animation that Frank and Ollie presented has had a tremendous effect on all aspects of my art. My book, my personal award-winning illustrations, and a 38-year career with the Disney Studio bear witness of putting these principles into practice.


Who am I?

I've been drawing for over 68 years and carrying a sketchbook for over 60 of those years. I've seen success as an author, I'm an award-winning illustrator of books and magazines and animated many classic Disney features. Am I an expert on sketching humans and animals? ...No. I'm constantly learning in my effort to capture humans and animals in action by following the basic principles of drawing as they apply to quick sketching. My learning is aided by these books as I prepare lesson plans or the encouragement and inspiration found within their pages. I'm married to LaVonne, my high school sweetheart of 50 years, and have three grown children and six grandchildren.


I wrote...

Quick Sketching with Ron Husband

By Ron Husband,

Book cover of Quick Sketching with Ron Husband

What is my book about?

One of the benefits quick sketching has given me is that it has sharpened my ability to analyze actions quickly. I now look at human and animal movement and see their basic shapes, the various shapes it is composed of as a whole and individually. I am able to quickly recognize special relationships between my subject or subjects; how far an arm is away from the body, the distance one foot is from another in a walk, or how one body relates to another in space. Seeing both the negative and positive shapes as equally important has given me control over my quick sketches. I am definitely a better artist today because of what quick sketching has caused me to focus my artistic attention on. 

The Little House

By Virginia Lee Burton,

Book cover of The Little House

I cannot stop loving this book, which graphically depicts a city growing up around a small farm country cottage. While the storyline concerns the fate of the tiny house, the thrill is watching the steady mushrooming growth of vehicles, electric lines, street cars, street lamps, apartment buildings, elevated and subway trains, and finally skyscrapers as they surround the home before it is able to make its satisfying escape back to the country. The art is warm and cozy, befitting a book that has a gutsy cottage as the main character.


Who am I?

I especially love books for children that capture city life in a way that feels both unique and child scaled. I have set most of my books in cities because I love the story possibilities that exist in what are almost entirely human-made environments. Paradoxically, city settings make any kind of connection to the natural world or animals even more important. On this list are all books I feel show a particularly special aspect of city life for children.


I wrote...

Red Again

By Barbara Lehman,

Book cover of Red Again

What is my book about?

When a young boy discovers a forgotten book on a city street, it opens a window to another world just as real as his own. But what happens when the two worlds collide? This imaginative companion to the Caldecott Honor-winning The Red Book works in a continuous loop, showing us that stories never really end.  And that just maybe someone is waiting for a chance to visit us, through the magic of a book.

Or, view all 11 books about Walt Disney

New book lists related to Walt Disney

All book lists related to Walt Disney