Pocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair

by Amy Guglielmo (Author) Brigette Barrager (Illustrator)

Pocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade
Amy Guglielmo, Jacqueline Tourville, and Brigette Barrager team up to tell the joyful and unique story of the trailblazing Disney artist Mary Blair. Mary Blair lived her life in color: vivid, wild color. From her imaginative childhood to her career as an illustrator, designer, and animator for Walt Disney Studios, Mary wouldn't play by the rules. At a time when studios wanted to hire men and think in black and white, Mary painted twinkling emerald skies, peach giraffes with tangerine spots, and magenta horses that could fly. She painted her world.

School Library Journal

K-Gr 4 —This picture book biography of Mary Blair reveals a woman who thought outside the box and beyond the "rules" of art. Digitally rendered illustrations assist in telling the story of the artist who followed her own vision and relished playing with color. The pictures show paint swirling off the artwork Blair created, emphasizing her desire to be free to do what came naturally. A variety of hues with which readers may not be familiar are introduced, such as sienna, azure, viridian, cerulean, and mauve. Blair accepted a position with Walt Disney Studios during the Depression, assuming the company would welcome her artistic flair. The scene of her first day at work depicts her dressed in teal and pink while the other illustrators, all men, wear black, brown, gray, and white—foretelling the resistance to individuality she encountered. Blair soon resigned from that position and found satisfaction in illustrating books and advertisements, but years later Walt Disney himself hired her back. He appreciated her unconventional use of color and wanted it for the "It's a Small World" ride he designed for the 1964 World's Fair. The ending spread pays homage to that very ride, showing a slew of kids, dressed in cultural costumes, holding hands; however, this depiction reinforces many stereotypes and will likely need to be followed by a discussion. VERDICT Budding artists will enjoy learning about Blair and her persistence in obeying her instincts and creating art that pleased her.—Maryann H. Owen, Oak Creek Public Library, WI

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

The aesthetic of artist Mary Blair has had an outsize impact on the children's book world, and now her life story gets its own book. Throughout, Guglielmo (the Touch the Art series) and Tourville (Albie's First Word) emphasize the sexism and artistic pushback Blair faced and her unabashed love of color: "On her first day of work, the men in charge didn't want to talk about cerulean or celadon or cerise." Barrager (Uni the Unicorn) laces her vibrant images with visual references to Blair's memorable work for such films as Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. An effervescent tribute that doesn't sugarcoat Blair's path to success. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: (for Guglielmo) Stephen Barbara, Inkwell Management; (for Tourville) Brianne Johnson, Writers House. Illustrator's agent: Kirsten Hall, Catbird Agency. (Aug.)

Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Walt Disney Studios were pretty solidly a man's world when Mary Blair and her passionate love of zingy color reported to work in 1940 . . . [K]ids and their adult readers...will be rewarded with a story of a woman worth knowing, and they will enjoy the '60s mod colorscape and collage-like retro design that echos Blair's 'Small World' achievement."—BCCB "July/August 2017 "
Amy Guglielmo
Amy Guglielmo lives a life in pictures. In addition to writing about art, artists, and makers, she is a painter, teacher, and supporter of arts education for children of all ages. Amy once created a Barbie house, equipped with a working elevator, and she is an A-plus hugger. She lives with her husband on the Adirondack coast of Lake Champlain. You can visit Amy online at AmyGuglielmo.com.

Jacqueline Tourville's experience working with children with autism as a public school teacher opened her eyes to the importance of inclusive stories for kids. The author of Albie's First Word: A Tale Inspired by Albert Einstein's Childhood and coauthor with Amy Guglielmo of Pocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaire, Jacqueline lives in Maine with her family. Ask her about the miniature log cabin she once built for her cat! Visit her at JacquelineTourville.com.

Brigette Barrager is an artist, designer, writer, and the illustrator of Pocket Full of Colors by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville as well as the New York Times bestselling Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She attended the California Institute of the Arts and spent some time working in animation before taking the plunge into book illustration, where she's lived happily ever after. She resides in Los Angeles with her handsome husband, cute doggy, and terrible cat. Visit Brigette online at BrigetteB.com.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
August 20, 2017

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