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Pocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaire
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Pocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaire

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  882 ratings  ·  204 reviews
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
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published August 29th 2017 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 4.36  · 
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 ·  882 ratings  ·  204 reviews

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Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mary Blair saw things just a little bit brighter and bolder than others did. While others seemed to see and think in only black and white, her world was colorful and vibrant. Disney’s It’s a Small World attraction showcases her modern and vivid style. This short biography tells her story and is a nice primer for colors beyond the basics.
Laura Harrison
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: omg-cant-wait
A picture book biography about Mary Blair? I'm in! This book is like a Walt Disney dream come true. Mary Blair was an artistic genius that children should know about. It is about time! The illustrations are as vibrant, creative and magical as Mary Blair herself. I could not be more thrilled about Pocket Full of Colors!!!
To this day the lure is still strong. Walking past the section of the store displaying the boxes of Crayola crayons without slowing down is not an option. You find yourself suddenly stopping to comprehend all the various shades and number of hues in each box.

You remember when getting the coveted box of sixty-four was the best day ever. You and your neighborhood pals would gather on a blanket underneath the big maple tree in your front yard to color and draw all day long. Pocket Full of Colors: T
"Under a wide blue sky,
on a red dirt road,
in a lemon-yellow house,
there lived a little girl named Mary.

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

I didn’t realize how color had been limited by animators/designers/advertisers in the USA until the early to mid 20th century. Mary Blair’s work was groundbreaking. Blair was also a strong woman who refused to play by the rules and didn’t let “the rules” stop her from advancing her dreams, developin
Marjorie Ingall
Mar 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: kids-3-6, kids-4-8

I liked the emphasis on how much sexism Mary Blair faced in her career, and there's one spread in particular that just explodes with liveliness and color. But overall, this book's storytelling is stilted and its art is conventional and static compared to Mary Blair's own work. You can really see it in the spreads that depict Blair's actual paintings; she had so much wit and humor that doesn't really come thru in the referential Blair-lite illustrations. I especially was bummed at the way th
Gary Anderson
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Pocket Full of Colors is a picture book biography of Disney artist Mary Blair. The through line of Mary’s story is her fascination with color. As a child, Mary “collected” colors; throughout her life, she traveled the world in search of more colors. When first hired by Walt Disney, Mary’s fanciful color schemes were rejected by the “Nine Old Men,” Disney’s primary animators. But Pocket Full of Colors is a persistence story, and Mary ends up in charge of her own animation. Mary Blair is the reaso ...more
Vannessa Anderson
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
While other children collected things like marbles or dolls, Mary collected colors.

Pocket Full of Colors is about Mary Blair, one of the first women to be hired at Walt Disney Studios. The story was about an imaginable and creative woman working with unimaginable and uncreative men where everything had to be their way or no way at all.

When working with the men became unbearable she left her job and became an illustrator of children books and creating sets for plays and television.

It was Walt
Mary Blair was an artist who worked on and off for Disney (starting in the 1940s). Her fascination with and use of color was wild and vibrant and many of her supervisors were reluctant to use her designs and considered them too bright and modern. Still, some of her ideas were accepted and after leaving Disney, she was a successful commercial artist, set designer, and picture book illustrator. She rejoined Disney once again to contribute to the Small World project. This picture book biography cap ...more
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Love it. Great art style. Colorful of course. Lovely. This is a delightful picture book biography of one of the most iconic Disney artist's of her period--and one who young readers may not yet know. Using colors as a framing device this book follows the life of Mary Blair from her early artistic aspirations and her career as a Disney artists working on movies including Alice in Wonderland and Cinderellas as well as her later work designing the It's a Small World Ride in Disney World.
Colorful, large-scale picture book about pioneer female animator Mary Blair. Her penchant for color didn't really fly at her first Disney job, so she left and pursued it in other venues (such as Little Golden Books). I love this aspect of the story. Later in her own career, Walt Disney asked her to design the It's A Small World ride. Happily, some of her colorful concept art is now being appreciated in new picture book editions of Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella.
Katie Lawrence
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Absolutely fascinating biography of the woman behind It's a Small World's iconic, vibrant look, as well as other early Disney films. My only wish was that there was some back matter, including a resource list, because I want to read more about this extraordinary woman! Love the illustrations as well, so gorgeous and captivating too!
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the most exuberant, if not colorful, picture book biographies for children that I have read. I really liked how the author helps increase the vocabulary of children with the many names of many different colors. The illustrations, appropriately, are almost Disney-esque; and also appropriately, very colorful and lively.
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Brigette Barrager's illustrations are absolutely stunning--- full of color, unique but with just the right nod to the Golden Age of Disney artists. I found myself wanting to know even more about Mary Blair, which is why I'm giving this four stars instead of five.
Brenda Kahn
Engaging biography of a pioneer in animation, energetic digital illustrations enhance the text. Authors' note but no other backmatter or suggested resources.
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I think I first came across the name Mary Blair watching DVD special features on older Disney films. I would be astounded by her art usually used during concept and storyboarding stages rather than in the final products which was a shame because they were beautiful. And I've seen some of the stories being rereleased using her illustrations. This wonderful picture book will be great for artists because of all the colors involved. And it's so fascinating how talent that was originally and generall ...more
T.E. Antonino
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is about the struggle and triumph of an amazing artist named Mary Blair, who worked for Walt Disney. The Walt Disney executives didn't recognize her talents at first, but later she went on to be one of Walt Disney's most celebrated artists. Her ability to see and duplicate colors was phenomenal. If your child is artistic, this book can be life-changing once they're old enough to reflect on it. A "Pocket Full of Colors" was an inspiration to me. I loved every bit of this picture book. I ...more
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was such an interesting book!!! I did not know this about Disney or Mary Blair. First of all it is interesting that they hired a woman for that type of position at a time when men were it. I didn't know that it was such a fight to get color into animation at that time. Or that Walt Disney took her over seas to study color and culture for a project. What an amazing life and an amazing story.
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully told story of a female pioneer Disney artist who persisted with her passion for vibrant, mesmerizing colors despite the rigidity and strict rules of the animation patriarchy. Mary's Blair's work is masterful and magical and has influenced and inspired many artists over the last 40 years.

The art and text of this children's book about Blair's story is exquisite. Brings an incredible artist and her work to life.
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
I love learning more about women who made significant contributions in their field but aren't as well known. time to let the light shine on them.
Maggi Rohde
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beautiful, and just detailed enough for a picture book biography!
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Who would have thought that the visionary behind Walt Disney World’s iconic It’s A Small World ride was a woman!
Dec 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Charmingly fun.
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Mary Blair collected colors as a child, filling her eyes and her world with the colors of her family’s move West across the desert and into California. At art school, she met her husband and the two painted together. Hired as one of the first women at Disney Studios, the men didn’t want to consider her bright colors. Walt Disney invited her on a trip to South America, where Mary discovered new bright colors. She continued to try to get her colors into films, sometimes accepted and other times no ...more
Molly Erickson
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children
I don't have kids, so I read very few children's books. However, with the upcoming arrival of my nephew, I have been looking at children's books more. Books are [some] children's first introduction to the world, and I believe that learning things should be as important as the pretty picture that comes along with the words. This book had it all.

In a time before the women's rights movement, Mary Blair did it all. She worked in a male-dominated field but managed to hold her own. Not only did she he
Lucy Pruner
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: caldecott
I choose this wonderful, magical and colorful book for my personal pick for the Caldecott. This book gives an outline of Mary Blair's life and experience with Walt Disney. She got hired and the committee was full of men that only preferred black and white images. She feels trapped and she needed to spread her wings so she ended up leaving. Walt later reaches out to her and gives Mary another opportunity to use her colors for a project, meant just for her. By the end, it shows the very diverse "I ...more
Stephanie Tournas
Bright, luminescent colors are the stand outs in this picture book biography of one the pioneering women in art and animation from the 1940's - 1960's. Each page is a panorama of color and early-Disney design. Kids will recognize many of the characters from early Disney movies, and will love the color and flair of the presentation. Even the text revels in the expression of exotic color names. (I love to see rich vocabulary in children's books). There is a touch of whimsy in the book as Blair col ...more
Mary Blair loved color. She collected colors of every shade and hue. She went to art school where she met and married Lee. She went to work for Disney but the men in charge thought her art was too wild and didn't follow the rules. Walt was impressed by her and took her to tour South America. After this trip, she worked on the Three Caballeros and her sketches made it on to the big screen. However, most of her ideas for other films were rejected. She left Disney Studios and found other work. Even ...more
Jul 20, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a lovely book. The pictures and colors are gorgeous.

It fell a little flat for my kids and me. The whole book leads up to the big reveal of It's a Small World - the ride at Disneyland. Neither me or my kids have been to Disneyland, so it wasn't as big of a "whoa, how exciting" moment as I'm sure it would be for others who have actually been on the ride. The book doesn't even explain that it's a ride at Disneyland. I had to explain to my kids. It just says "It's a Small World was a sensati
Amy Lafleur Meyers
Mary Blair loved colors from when she was a little girl and had adventures that showed her new colors. She became an artist and had ideas of using vivid colors in movies but was rejected. Eventually, she found her place. As is fitting for a picture book biography of someone who lived bright colors, Brigette Barrager uses a vivid eye-catching color palette in her illustrations and put names to the colors that Blair found, loved, and used.
Jo Oehrlein
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shows scenes from Mary Blair's childhood and the colors in those scenes that inspired her.

Talks about her job at Disney and how she felt blocked by the guys above her.
She quit and did wonderful things away from Disney, then was invited back to do It's a Small World.

The book did a great job of expressing all the rich colors she was interested in.

She's my favorite Disney artist and I love seeing things she did and identifying things that are Mary Blair-ish now.
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Amy is an award-winning artist and author of the Touch the Art series for kids. She lives with her husband on the shores of Costa Rica and Lake Champlain where she enjoys water sports just as long as she doesn't have to get her hair wet.

Twitter @touchtheart

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