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"Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" features seldom-seen artwork

"Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" features seldom-seen artwork

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We're still six weeks out from the release of the diamond edition of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." But some of the merchandise that's supposed to piggyback on the hi-def Blu-ray version of this Disney Classic is already starting to show up in stores. With Cynthia Rylant & Gustaf Tenggren's "Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (Disney Press, August 2009) being a particular stand-out.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs retold by Cynthia Rylant
Copyright 2009 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

"And what's so special about this 40 page picture book?," you ask. Well, for starters, it's illustrated with many of the pieces of inspirational art that Tenggren created specifically for "Snow White." Back when Walt was still struggling to come with a distinctive look & design for Disney Studios' first ever feature-length animated cartoon.

Snow White and her prince concept art
Copyright 2009 Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

You see, prior to his arrival at 2719 Hyperion back in 1936, Gustaf was one of the top illustrators of children's books in the world. Tenggren was somehow able to tap into his Scandinavian heritage (with that region's rich tradition of myth & folklore) to create fantasy characters unlike any that had ever been seen before.

Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs retold by Cynthia Rylant
Copyright 2009 Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

And Walt clearly liked what Gustaf drew. For not only did Disney have Tenggren create countless inspirational paintings for "Snow White," he also had this Swedish-born artist create dozens of character designs & sample settings for the Studio's second full-length animated feature, "Pinocchio."

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs retold by cynthia Rylant
Copyright 2009 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Given how beautiful most of these "Snow White" inspirational paintings are, it seemed a shame that they were locked away in Disney's Animation Research Library. Only to be seen by a lucky few.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs retold by Cynthia Rylant
Copyright 2009 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Which is why I think that it's terrific that -- on the heels of their success with those earlier illustrated-with-concept-art picture books "Walt Disney's Cinderella" and "Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland" -- Disney Press returned to the ARL to see what else might be lurking in those flat files.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs retold by Cynthia Rylant
Copyright 2009 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

And when they came across all those inspirational paintings that Gustaf Tenggren had done for "Snow White," the folks from Disney Press knew exactly what they should do. They reached out to Cynthia Rylant (who had done such a great job with creating the accompanying text for the "Walt Disney's Cinderella" picture book. Which had been built around the concept art that Mary Blair had created for that 1950 Walt Disney Productions release ) ...

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs retold by Cynthia Rylant
Copyright 2009 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

... to see if this award-winning author would be willing to tackle a similar assignment for the Mouse House. This time around, retelling the tale of "The Fairest One of All." 

 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs retold by Cynthia Rylant
Copyright 2009 Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Ms. Rylant clearly must have been inspired by Mr. Tenggren's inspirational paintings. For "Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" is an eminently entertaining picture book. One that's sure to entertain 7-year-olds who are headed to bed and/or 77-year-olds who long to see preproduction art from classic Disney animated features.

Just so you know, though: This series isn't over yet. "Walt Disney's Peter Pan" ...

Peter Pan Book Cover
Copyright 2009 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

... (which will feature the concept art that Mary Blair created for this 1953 Walt Disney Productions release as well as an accompanying text by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson) is due to hit store shelves on October 13th of this year. So you might want to leave some space open on your Disney History shelf for this picture book as well.

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