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Editor’s Corner: Diane Muldrow Talks About Mary Blair and Her Art

August 22, 2012

Today RAoR welcomes Diane Muldrow, Editorial Director, Golden Books to share her thoughts about the recently published A Mary Blair Treasury of Golden Books.

RAoR Mary Blair Treasury

Like Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe, Mary Blair (1911-1978) seems to become more popular as time goes by.

One of Walt Disney’s favorite artists, Mary Blair did concept artwork for Cinderella, Peter Pan, and Alice in Wonderland (among other Disney films). Her vibrant color choices led Disney to remark that she knew about colors he had never heard of. Blair’s signature design work on the boat ride “It’s a Small World” is one of her best-loved Disney projects.

Mary Blair’s style is revered, and often imitated by, today’s celebrated animators and illustrators. Her centennial was celebrated last October in Los Angeles at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. On the panel discussing her work were such distinguished animators as Pixar’s Pete Docter, who directed the movies “Up” and “Monsters, Inc.”, and Eric Goldberg, who co-directed “Pocahontas.”

RAoR Mary Blair Babys House

That same week, Ms. Blair with honored with her own Google homepage doodle on what would have been her 100th birthday, in the style of her brightly patterned artwork.

Keeping the Mary Blair celebration going, A Mary Blair Treasury of Golden Books has just been published—and it’s already getting lots of buzz! Golden Books Senior Art Director Roberta Ludlow designed the book and its breathtaking pink-and-purple-hued cover, which features the winsome girl and white bird from the cover of I Can Fly, and adorable children (and surprised cat) seen throughout The Golden Book of Little Verses.

RAoR Mary Blair little verses

There are only five Mary Blair Golden Books in all (though Blair also illustrated a few cover illustrations of Disney titles). I Can Fly, the best known of them all, was awarded a Picture Book Honor by The New York Herald Tribune at the 1951 Children’s Spring Book Festival. It’s presented in its entirety here, as are Baby’s House, The Up and Down Book, and The Golden Book of Little Verses. Many of the most colorful pages from The New Golden Song Book are included too, to round out the collection spanning the years 1950 to 1964. Blair’s style evolves from book to book, but her brilliant color and bold shapes are constant.

RAoR Mary Blair golden songbook

Several years ago I enjoyed reading The Art and Flair of Mary Blair by the Oscar-winning animator John Canemaker. As soon as I got in-house approval to publish our treasury, I introduced myself to John in an email and asked him to write about Mary Blair for our book. I received his Foreword a few short weeks later! John did a wonderful job of introducing Mary Blair’s colorful work, and way of working, to our young readers and their families.

RAoR Mary Blair up and down

We knew the book had to be produced in a large size to make the most of the vibrant artwork (and The Golden Book of Little Verses and The New Golden Song Book had been published as Big Golden Books originally). We think that the Treasury’s big format, loving design elements, and glossy paper look and feel just right for the homage we felt Mary Blair deserved.

Many Thanks to Diane Muldrow for sharing the story of the artist behind some of our fond childhood book memories and for making Mary Blair’s work available for new readers too!

Please share your thoughts in our comments section.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 27, 2012 11:31 pm

    I can’t wait to buy this book!

  2. October 18, 2013 9:51 pm

    This book was such a disappointment. I returned it. The paintings were digitally altered (ie, the kid’s hair in ‘Baby’s House’) and the colors were washed out, almost as if they attempted to ‘modernize’ them. The result is truly depressing. It pales in comparison to the original Golden Books.

  3. August 16, 2015 10:51 am

    hi there
    i’m looking for Roberta Ludlow, the wonderful illustrator who worked with us years ago at Three Lives and Co bookstore in greenwich village…is this you?

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