Kati's Reviews > Sunrise Over Disney

Sunrise Over Disney by L.N. Smith
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's review
Dec 29, 2011

liked it
Read from December 09 to 26, 2011

At its best, Sunrise Over Disney reads like a love letter to all things Disney. Walt, the movies, the studio, the parks, the vision of it all. Unfortunately, the book never seemed to determine what sort of book it is. It alternates between hardcore interesting information for the most knowledgeable Disneyphiles and An Idiot's Guide to The Magic Kingdom, which is not only confusing, but also frustrating.

For example, the story is narrated by Bert who is married to Mary. One of their kids is named Michael, and he has a sister named Jane. Oh, and Mary has an Uncle Albert who really likes to laugh. Mary had a great aunt of some sort who was also named Mary, but who was called "Poppie" and who was a nanny in London. The parallels are a bit obvious, but it brings new ideas to the story of Mary Poppins by suggesting that Mary had a form of nonharmful psychosis that led her to believe that she could speak to statues (and, presumably, pop into chalk drawings). The Disney-lover in me was charmed and intrigued by the possibilities of this storyline. Unfortunately, there was a remedial lesson into how Mickey Mouse used to be called Mortimer, and what in the heck a "hidden Mickey" might be - not charming or intriguing.

The plot is interesting, overall. Bert's family planned a big huge trip to Walt Disney World and Bert would like to recapture the "Disney Magic" he remembers from being a kid, but he wonders if, as an adult, he is too old and too logical to grasp the magic. Mary is Bert's opposite- he's a storyteller, spinning tales and sharing them with his kids to both entertain and teach. She is a scientist, obsessed with facts and figures and organization. But she helps Bert with his love for Disney, even when he worries that her facts might ruin the magic. Mary puts together a book of facts on Walt Disney, his life, his parks, etc. for Bert and he uses the book as a jumping off point to dig deeper into understanding who Walt Disney was as a person and why.

The story is bogged down by all the detours. The 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Pullman's idealistic town, McCarthyism, how a person 50 years ago could be racist & sexist and still be a good person. There were times I felt like I was slogging through the most painfully obvious points. Bert took ages to remember that James Madison even existed, much less that he wrote the Constitution. Even though Bert LIVES IN MADISON, WISCONSIN.

I truly enjoyed parts of the book, including some of the detours. There was a lot of good information and fun things I picked up on while still being able to get lost in the story. Excerpts from Ronald Reagan and Walt Disney's testimony before McCarthy's committee was interesting, if marginally related to the story. Other times, it read like an encyclopedia of very basic knowledge instead of like a novel. Is this a book about existentialism, about Walt Disney, about creative parenting methods, about a marriage that might be but probably isn't in trouble, or what? Sunrise Over Disney never seems quite sure what it is. The somewhat pretentious blurb for the book was a clue that the book might take itself far too seriously while still not quite making sense.

Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of Sunrise Over Disney by the author & publisher in exchange for writing a review. All opinions are my own.

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