Quinn Rollins's Reviews > Up: The Insider's Guide

Up by Laura Gilbert
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Feb 12, 2012

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bookshelves: picture-books
Read in September, 2010

DK Publishing has made a name for themselves with their richly photograph and illustrated guides. Whether they're looking at astronomy, bird-watching guides, or movies and pop culture, they're going to give you a show.

So when we saw Up! The Insider's Guide, this Pixar-loving family had to pick it up. The book is based on the 2009 Pixar movie, and focuses on Carl Fredricksen and his companions Russell, Kevin, and Dug, along with Carl's wife Ellie and his idol-nemesis Charles F. Muntz. Authors Laura Gilbert and Julia March take the exciting and surprisingly profound movie, and distill it into a 48 page hardcover picture book.

The book is loosely chronological, looking at the plot, settings and characters from the beginning to end of the movie. So we start out meeting young Carl and Ellie, who form their own adventure club after being inspired by newsreels of Charles F. Muntz's own escapades. Then we see Carl and Ellie growing older, and eventually Carl is on his own, with a hard choice to make--leaving his home behind, or going on one last adventure. Of course he chooses adventure, and accidentally brings Junior Wilderness Explorer Russell along with him. Eventually they meet up with a colorful bird named Kevin, and a talking dog named Dug.

As each new character is introduced, they get a two-page spread with inset pictures and text boxes explaining more about the character. For example, Russell has several bubbles that explain the Wilderness Explorer Badges on his sash, explanations of what's in his backpack, and some Russell quotes from the movie. The buttons on Dug's collar are explained, and we get a little more insight into why Dug is...the way he is.

Key locations, like Paradise Falls and Carl's house are explored in more detail, with a map of Carl and Russell's route to Paradise Falls, and highlighted mementos that Carl and Ellie collected in their home. The one location that I wanted to see more of was Muntz's dirigible, but that's left for the movie-watchers to explore.

This is written for kids, with more of an "in-universe" feel than a "behind the scenes" look at Up. The pictures are up to DK's (and Pixar's) high standards, and are colorful and crisp. My eight year old pored over every page for several days--even though the reading is at his level, for a "picture book" there's a surprising amount of text. He loved it. And then he told me about every page, and the new things he learned, or when he remembered certain parts of the movie. It made us want to watch it together again--maybe we can get a Junior Wilderness Explorer badge for that.
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