Friday, May 25, 2018

PPBF: Pocket Full of Colors

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Pocket Full of Colors,
a picture book biography of Disney artist Mary Blair
Pocket Full of Colors
The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaire 

Written by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville
Illustrated byBrigette Barrager

Atheneum Books For Young Readers, 2017
Ages 4-8, 48 pp, ATOS 4.3

Art, Biography

Under a wide blue sky,
on a red dirt road,
in a lemon-yellow house,
there lived a girl named Mary.

Other children collected marbles or dolls,
but Mary collected colors
of every shade and every hue.

This streamlined biography introduces readers to Mary, a little girl who loved to paint and collect colors in her heart. It follows her to California and a short stint at the Walt Disney Studios, where she was misunderstood and restricted. It briefly notes she worked as a successful artist in New York. Then culminates with her creation of the It's A Small World attraction for the 1964 World's Fair.  An author's note is included.

What I Love:
I have long wanted to write a picture book biography of Mary Blair. Naturally, someone else's doesn't match the vision and scope I imagined for my own book. Regardless, I bought this sight unseen when it was released, knowing the admiration the creators had for Blair's legacy.

While the illustrations certainly reflect the vivid, midcentury style of the subject, the text is straightforward, flooding the prose with a multitude of color names and almost treating the colors as a character, yet not quite as original as Mary Blair herself. The story hits the tips of a few icebergs in Blair's life, like her transformative trip to South America and her marriage to watercolorist Lee Blair.

I think this is an important biography which may lead readers on a journey of discovery to find the whole story and will, I hope, inspire female creators to persevere in marketplaces where they are underestimated.

1. Discover more about Mary Blair's art, influence, and merchandise on her official website and on Oh My Disney. You can also catch film of Mary herself sketching and painting in the Disney film Saludos Amigos. See also the post on Phyllis Loves Classic Movies.

2. Mary Blair has been featured in a beautiful short film, "Mary," by the students and staff of Gobelins, was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1991,  and even received her own Google doodle.

3. The Art of Education has compiled a half dozen ways to teach color theory to kids, a perfect compliment to the subject of this biography.

4. I love this School of Decorating article on helping kids choose a color scheme. I think some of the advice goes for any kind of kid-centric decision-making.

5. PinupGirl Clothing has exclusive use of Mary Blair fabrics. I am sure there are plenty of mom's who would love to get ahold of these prints for kids, too.

6. The artist's most enduring legacies may be the original It's A Small World attraction at Disneyland or the seven-story mural at the Contemporary Resort outside the Magic Kingdom. Read about the history and creation of It's A Small World on Designing Disney and at The Enchanted ManorDesign Observer and Cheapskate Princess have posted beautiful images of the mural. Just one more excuse to visit the Happiest Place on Earth if you're in Anaheim or The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.

7. After a hard day of play, treat the kids to a viewing of Disney's Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, or Cinderella. See if they can spot Mary's name in the credits and have crayons  and colored papers handy to duplicate her crazy, color-saturated backgrounds and designs. It's like a museum visit in your living room.

Concept art for Peter Pan
Concept art for Alice in Wonderland
Concept art for Cinderella

8. For further reading, check out the reprint collection of Mary's work for Little Golden Books or The Art and Flair of Mary Blair, by John Canemaker.

9. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Pat
Reviewed by Leslie
Reviewed by Kirsten
Reviewed by Joanna

Reviewed by Julie
Reviewed by Joanne

And two more reviews from Wander, Ponder, Write:
The Flying Girl,
Aida de Aeosta biography 
Miguel and the Grand Harmony,
A Coco story

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for Friday, May 25, 2018 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.


  1. How marvelous! I just checked out this book from my library last week and absolutely love it.

  2. You have totally piqued my interest about Mary Blair here, Joanne.

    1. Thanks. She's always been someone I looked up to, having grown up Disney.

  3. I think every illustrator is a Blair fan, eh?

  4. I've never heard of Mary Blair before and delighted to see this!

    1. She was amazing and unique and her husband was a gifted artist too. What I wouldn't give to have dinner at their house! Thanks.

  5. You have some great resources for a very interesting book. Thanks!

  6. This looks fun! Definitely want to read it.

    1. "Fun" is the perfect adjective. Thanks and have a great summer.

  7. I've never heard of Mary Blair either, but I love the look of this book and the trailer. Thanks for ahsring.

    1. Well, I'm certainly glad to have introduced so many people to this book. I'm sure the creators would be thrilled to know they are accomplishing their goal of continuing Mary Blair's legacy. Thanks.


Thank-you for taking time to share your thoughts!