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The Queens of Animation: The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History

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In The Queens of Animation, bestselling author Nathalia Holt recounts the dramatic stories of an incredibly influential group of women who have slipped under the radar for decades but have touched all our lives. These women infiltrated the all-male domain of Disney Studios and used early technologies to create the rich artwork and iconic storylines that would reach million In The Queens of Animation, bestselling author Nathalia Holt recounts the dramatic stories of an incredibly influential group of women who have slipped under the radar for decades but have touched all our lives. These women infiltrated the all-male domain of Disney Studios and used early technologies to create the rich artwork and iconic storylines that would reach millions of viewers across generations. Over the decades--while battling sexism, domestic abuse, and workplace harassment--these women also fought to influence the way female characters are depicted to young audiences. Based on extensive interviews and exclusive access to archival and personal documents, The Queens of Animation tells the story of their vital contribution to Disney's golden age and their continued impact on animated filmmaking, culminating in the record-shattering Frozen, Disney's first female-directed full-length feature film.


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In The Queens of Animation, bestselling author Nathalia Holt recounts the dramatic stories of an incredibly influential group of women who have slipped under the radar for decades but have touched all our lives. These women infiltrated the all-male domain of Disney Studios and used early technologies to create the rich artwork and iconic storylines that would reach million In The Queens of Animation, bestselling author Nathalia Holt recounts the dramatic stories of an incredibly influential group of women who have slipped under the radar for decades but have touched all our lives. These women infiltrated the all-male domain of Disney Studios and used early technologies to create the rich artwork and iconic storylines that would reach millions of viewers across generations. Over the decades--while battling sexism, domestic abuse, and workplace harassment--these women also fought to influence the way female characters are depicted to young audiences. Based on extensive interviews and exclusive access to archival and personal documents, The Queens of Animation tells the story of their vital contribution to Disney's golden age and their continued impact on animated filmmaking, culminating in the record-shattering Frozen, Disney's first female-directed full-length feature film.

30 review for The Queens of Animation: The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    The Queens of Animation by Nathalia Holt is a 2019 Little Brown publication. Although it is long overdue, it is still nice to see the women who worked on many of the classic Disney films we all know, and love, finally receiving public acknowledgement for their contributions. Grace Huntington, Retta Scott, Sylvia Holland, Bianca Majolie, and Mary Blair are the women profiled in this book, which also follows a timeline, beginning in 1936 and ending in 2013. The movies these ladies helped to develo The Queens of Animation by Nathalia Holt is a 2019 Little Brown publication. Although it is long overdue, it is still nice to see the women who worked on many of the classic Disney films we all know, and love, finally receiving public acknowledgement for their contributions. Grace Huntington, Retta Scott, Sylvia Holland, Bianca Majolie, and Mary Blair are the women profiled in this book, which also follows a timeline, beginning in 1936 and ending in 2013. The movies these ladies helped to develop, the influence they had on the process of creating these classic films, and the myriad of challenges they faced professionally and personally, are woven into the climate and history of the Disney studio. The book is interesting, especially the creative process, which is perhaps the most enlightening aspect of the book, for me. That doesn't mean I missed the author's message, or that I didn't find it important, just that I found the art and the talent these ladies were blessed with fascinating. I also enjoyed the trip down memory lane, remembering the films that brought me such joy as a child. The author chose these women to write about because they did a lot of important work on these films and their involvement was invaluable to their success, but unlike today, when even the smallest contribution can earn an accreditation, these ladies were ignored. Not only that, their ideas were stolen by their male colleagues, and they often worked under hostile conditions, and were sexually harassed. This slight, is a wrong the author is trying to draw our attention to, so yes, this book has a specific intent and the author is attempting to make a direct point. However, at times she underlined the issue too forcefully, and was a little too heavy handed, which, unfortunately, gave the book an impersonal tone. The book is also a bit disorganized and all over the place at times, and feels rushed through in places, as well. That said, I enjoyed learning more about this hidden history of Disney. The process of change for women, and even for non-white males, was a slow one. It took years before women were acknowledged and given more freedom and control at the studio. But the conclusion is an upbeat, inspirational one, showing the great strides women have taken, the impact they had in shaping Disney, which eventually culminated with the first female directed Disney Film- Frozen. Despite some warbles here and there, I thought this was an interesting book. I admire the creativity of these animators and am very happy to see them finally getting the recognition they richly deserve. Overall- 3.5 round up.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    Walt Disney was the neighborhood in Chicago where I grew up, claim to fame. The house he grew up in, albeit many years previous, was a few blocks from mine. Everyone new in our neighborhood had this pointed out to them. A terrific book that I enjoyed immensely. Five women who broke the gender barrier, and became integral to the studio. Though the book , and rightly so, centers on these forgotten women, we also get a sense of Walt himself, the studios troubles, and the making of the movies themsel Walt Disney was the neighborhood in Chicago where I grew up, claim to fame. The house he grew up in, albeit many years previous, was a few blocks from mine. Everyone new in our neighborhood had this pointed out to them. A terrific book that I enjoyed immensely. Five women who broke the gender barrier, and became integral to the studio. Though the book , and rightly so, centers on these forgotten women, we also get a sense of Walt himself, the studios troubles, and the making of the movies themselves. A process that took years in some cases. We also learn the stories of these women, their struggles, their fight to belong to this entrenched boys club. Glad to see that Walt supported women employees. Was surprised at some of the movies that in the early days were deemed flops. Movies that are now treasured. A wonderful narrative voice enhanced by the narration of Saskia Maarlevid.

  3. 5 out of 5

    da AL

    Bravo to the heretofore unsung women of Disney and to Nathalia Holt for unearthing their history. As much as I loathe the whole Cinderella scenario, merchandising adding injury to injury, the addictive grip imposes on consumers that Disney has perfected... it's nice to see that the founder wasn't as completely despicable to women as many employers were during his reign. Holt writes well and audio reader Maarvleveld's performance is wonderful too. Bravo to the heretofore unsung women of Disney and to Nathalia Holt for unearthing their history. As much as I loathe the whole Cinderella scenario, merchandising adding injury to injury, the addictive grip imposes on consumers that Disney has perfected... it's nice to see that the founder wasn't as completely despicable to women as many employers were during his reign. Holt writes well and audio reader Maarvleveld's performance is wonderful too.

  4. 4 out of 5

    TL

    This was so fascinating to me. I don't know about youins but I never paid attention to the credits in movies *sheepish* and never thought about the people who worked on my favorite characters until I was older. When you're little, you usually don't think about all blood/sweat/tears the people behind the scenes put into a movie. Its just a magical world you fall into and fall in love with. I'm sure most of you have a favorite Disney character above the rest:). For me, the first ones I fell in love This was so fascinating to me. I don't know about youins but I never paid attention to the credits in movies *sheepish* and never thought about the people who worked on my favorite characters until I was older. When you're little, you usually don't think about all blood/sweat/tears the people behind the scenes put into a movie. Its just a magical world you fall into and fall in love with. I'm sure most of you have a favorite Disney character above the rest:). For me, the first ones I fell in love with were Little Mermaid (we used to make my brother play with us and pretend to be a merman hehe), Lion King, and Aladdin. Beauty and the Beast came later but the first three were my first experiences with Disney. I still love Ariel, Simba, Jasmine and the gang but I've gotten more fond of/closer to Belle as I grew up. Besides our mutual love of books, she was more "real" to me.. if that makes sense. I admires her courage and spirit too. There were so many things about Disney Company I had no clue about. The company being so much in debt, the environment in the Story meetings, how women had to fight to get their ideas noticed... and that women helped animate my favorite films (just to name a few). I wanted to hug poor Bianca when she ran out of the Story meeting and Mary Blair when things started going downhill for her:(. The attitudes of the men were surprising and not at the same time. More than once I threw my hands up and called them idiots or big babies. It was interesting too to see how the evolving technology was worked into the films Disney made. Sometimes my eyes glazed over on the technical details though. The "credits system" for the films surprised me too. I had no clue how unfair it was really and how it really wasn't fixed later (even though it was supposed to be more fair). Makes me want to go back through the films and examine them more closely. A few things I do remember hearing about: Racist sequences/lyrics in Fantasia/Aladdin How expensive Sleeping Beauty was to make. Certain movies being flops at the box office. Others that were new to me: How long Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast were shelved before they went into production. How long Bambi was in production The workers strike at Disney back then For the longest time Disney male employees not wanting to draw fairies or sequences "too feminine basically " (loud snorting was involved in these instances) When Pixar.was formed I won't spoil it for us but this was a very fascinating read. I was worried about not being able to finish this before my turn was up but I flew through this and listened every spare moment I could. Would highly recommend.. these women should be more well known and recognized for their contributions. *Proud DisneyGirl*

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

    I received The Queens of Animation: The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History by Nathalia Holt as a Goodreads Giveaway. I’m very grateful for this because now I know to avoid all works by this author. The Queens of Animation is not a pleasure to read and I found its treatment of the subject insufficient. These women who bravely ventured into the brutally sexist and male-dominated world of 1950s and 1960s Disney animation studios did not get the I received The Queens of Animation: The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History by Nathalia Holt as a Goodreads Giveaway. I’m very grateful for this because now I know to avoid all works by this author. The Queens of Animation is not a pleasure to read and I found its treatment of the subject insufficient. These women who bravely ventured into the brutally sexist and male-dominated world of 1950s and 1960s Disney animation studios did not get the book they deserve. As a general introduction to animation and the Walt Disney Studios, however, this book does a decent job. You will get an overview of the creative process behind the studio’s productions, with more in depth details for some of the more iconic movies (Bambi, Pinocchio, Fantasia). If you are interested in the technical aspects of animation, then hurrah! because Holt supplies them, often to excess. It was surprising to learn how long it took to get these movies to production—usually several years (The Snow Queen didn’t see fruition for decades, eventually morphing into Frozen). The book is arranged more or less chronologically, so you can follow the progress of technology from hand-inked drawings to the use of Xerox copiers to computer animation. It’s also interesting to note how Disney writers took the original sources of fairy tales, which were often violent and disturbing (the original Pinocchio is mean little bastard who is murdered in the end and good riddance to him) and rewrote them to be more palatable (and marketable) to the public. This isn’t new to me, but I did appreciate knowing more about the original fairy tales. However, the women of this book, who are supposed to be the book’s central theme, don’t stand out as individuals. Despite all of the author’s research and reading of the women’s journals, letters, and conversations with (still living) women and relatives of the women, the women rarely get to speak for themselves. There are not many direct quotes. The women all blur together against a backdrop of sexism and workplace harassment and technical details. The Queens of Animation is highly formulaic: introduce the woman, give some basic biographical information, throw in technical information about animation, move to the next woman. The women’s stories often overlap as many of them worked at the studio within the same time period if not all in the same departments. This formulaic approach would be fine if the author were a skillful writer. She is not. The prose is rather boring and seems dumbed down. Holt’s most egregious insult is to dramatize events and write in a sentimental manner, as if these women are in some kind of romance novel. Holt writes that this woman thought that, or laughed at this, or shuddered at that…how the hell does she know this? These are real people, not fictional creations. How does Holt know at that exact moment, Bianca Majolie is imagining leaving her demanding job as an animator because she’s unhappy? If Holt pulled this information from reading Majolie’s journals or letters, then she should mention this in the text. But she never does. Holt never cites her specific sources for anything these real women say, think, feel, or do. That’s shoddy scholarship. I absolutely HATE reading nonfiction books that treat its subjects like fictional characters. The first chapter starts by dramatically introducing Bianca Majolie, one of the first women hired by Walt Disney to work in the animation department, as being terrified as she stands in front of a group men in a story meeting. She’s there to present her ideas for a project (which one is not specified) but the men reject her ideas. This is how Holt describes the scene after Bianca runs from the room: She could hear the group of men running after her, the pounding of their feet growing louder as they continued to taunt her. She had never been so thankful to have a private office. She ran into it, turned the lock, then covered her face with her hands and let the tears of embarrassment and shame she had been holding back flow. As she caught her breath she could hear shouts on the other side of the door and then her colleagues’ insistent knocking…Bianca cowered in the corner, her heart beating wildly, and her panicky gasps for air becoming high-pitched…She knew that the team wanted her to be thoroughly humiliated. Her tears fueled their cruelty. The wooden door frame began bending now, the plywood and nails no match for the pressure of so many men on the other side. With a loud craack, the wood splintered, the door gave way, and a crowd of men tumbled into Bianca’s sanctuary. She buried her head in her arms, covering her ears to try to block their shouts, but it was no use. She would have to take it like a man (5-6).If this were a novel, I’d say, wow. That’s a pretty good scene. What happens next? But this is nonfiction so this scene seems ridiculous to me. When I search the notes section at the end of the book (which are not specified by page number, only chapters, so you have to look through all of the notes to find what you think might be the source for the specific story/quotation/event you’re looking for) Holt credits this “disastrous story meeting” to a “recollection” from another book. But even if the story is factually true (based on this recollection), Holt has dramatized it too much; it crosses the line from fact-based to fiction—and that’s how she wrote the entire book. Another problem with the story is the lack of any critical analysis or connection to the outside world. Aside from acknowledging how WWII affected the Disney studio’s workforce, finances and projects, it’s as if the studio and these women existed in a vacuum. Many of the studio’s early works (well, later ones as well) are criticized for being sexist and racist (Fantasia fits the description for both), yet Holt does not place the films and the people in this book within the context of social and historical events that affected them. For example, Holt discusses that Sylvia Moberly-Holland made a short film during WWII to help women understand menstruation. Giving women this kind of information about their bodies was highly controversial (and hey, regarding this we’re still in the 1940s) but Sylvia managed to get it done. There’s absolutely NO analysis of this in relation to how the film was received by the greater public or if she got any blowback from doing this. This is how Holt connects the importance of this to the outside world: “Sylvia’s piece was being produced at a time of innovation in feminine-hygiene products” (166). That segues into the development of the tampon (which, FYI, had been in use for centuries—even Egyptians used them!). Unfortunately, Holt puts more effort into her highly emotional and fictionalized descriptions of these women:[Mary Blair has had several miscarriages.] She could not grieve openly for the loss of her babies, so Mary channeled her sorrow into her sketch pad and brushes. She painted the scene between mother and child in a dark, moody palette, the images destined to become iconic. Yet at the edges of her paper, the watercolors pooled like tears running from her eyes, betraying her sorrow (114). [Mary Blair’s trip to Cuba to experience the culture.] She sketched furiously over the course of five weeks as she traveled the country, visiting cigar factories, strolling through fields of sugarcane, and twirling her heels in dance halls (165). I often felt that large chunks of these women’s lives were left untouched. Holt starts the book with that dramatic scene with Bianca, but never follows up on what happened after that. Bianca is abruptly fired by Walt Disney; she doesn’t even know until she returns from vacation and discovers that her office is no longer hers—a coworker tells her she was fired. After this, Bianca is also essentially fired from the book and completely disappears until the last paragraph or so in the last chapter of the book. Mary Blair was in an abusive marriage and Holt describes a violent scene in which her husband breaks a chair over their young son’s head because he refused to eat his vegetables. The boy is described as having “deep wounds across his head” and she realizes that she too has “blood running down her own face” (249). So what happened after this? Who the hell knows. Holt drops the narrative. The stories of these women’s lives are fragmented and scattered. When discussing the racism of the film Song of the South, Holt shames Mary Blair for not stopping it. One woman against a bunch of men, the animators responsible for the racist drawings, and yet she should have stopped it. Walt Disney himself suggested some of the racist stereotypes. But because Mary drew “nuanced” depictions of the South and was racially sensitive to the bigotry, Holt repeatedly calls her out for not disagreeing with the animators’ (and her boss’s) racist ideas: “At story meetings when racist depictions were discussed, she sat completely silent,” “Mary did not comment,” “…and she again said nothing” (178). Holt mentions a drawing Mary drew titled Sick Call which sympathetically depicts two African American men, the one man clearly in physical distress. Holt again shames Mary for not stopping the racism of the animators: “If Mary had brought this sense of humanity to the story meetings in addition to her Song of the South concept art, might she have swayed Walt? We’ll never know” (179). That’s a pretty bitchy comment by the author. First, Holt supposedly researched Mary Blair’s life. Rather than write suggestively nasty things about her, maybe cite some kind of fact-based research relevant to the situation. Holt is writing a book about these women being the first to break into the overwhelming sexist and oftentimes hostile male-dominated Disney animation studios, yet she displays absolutely no insight into her own subjects. Gee, why would Mary be hesitant about speaking out against all the male animators and her boss, Walt Disney? Why shouldn’t this lone woman argue with her male colleagues about attitudes that are fairly common and accepted in 1940 America? I would say Mary did speak out via her racially sensitive and sympathetic portrayals of African Americans. That is her protest. The Queens of Animation is okay for a general overview of the Walt Disney studios and animation, but if you are truly interested in these women and the larger topic of the history of animation and Walt Disney, skip it. Holt’s prose style—for a nonfiction book—is deplorable. While there is a notes section, it doesn’t strike me as being very helpful since it is grouped vaguely by chapter, not page number. While reading, I kept thinking: this sentence should have a footnote or asterisk for a specific source to back up what she is writing. I’m not impressed with Holt as a writer or as a researcher. There is a collection of color photographs in the middle of the book. The last photograph shows a mural painted by Mary Blair. This is the caption: “Mary Blair’s mural in Disneyland in the 1960s; it may or may not still exist.” In the epilogue, the author mentions the mural again while relating an overly cutesy story involving her daughter. The pictures may still be there, she tells little Eleanor, but they may not be there: “…the other Mary Blair mural, created in 1967, is likely still there, its images hopefully intact and entombed under layers of plaster” (321). Um, Holt, did you maybe think of, I don’t know, asking someone at Disney about it? I checked the notes—nope, she apparently did not bother to ask anyone. So Mary Blair’s murals are the Schrodinger’s Cat of Disneyland—both alive and dead at the same time and no one will ever know…until maybe a better author comes around and actually asks. Nathalia Holt also wrote Rise of the Rocket Girls, a book I have on my TBR list. I am removing it. I want to read about the subject, but not in any book she authored. Addition to review While reading Fantasyland, I came across a section about Congress's hearings into Un-American Activities in the 1950s, AKA the Communist hysteria aka McCarthyism, and who was a star witness for this nonsense? Why, Walt Disney! He was still pissed about the strike that shut down the studios 6 years ago and was getting revenge by blaming the whole thing on "Commies." The strike was covered in this book, but the author never mentions Disney's involvement in the McCarthy hearings. While the book's (supposed) focus is the women of Disney studios, Disney's bigoted and sexist attitudes (and vindictiveness) are barely mentioned even though I think those attitudes probably set the tone for the hostile atmosphere in the studio overall. Yet another example of this book failing to provide any kind of analysis.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Online Eccentric Librarian

    I was interested in the biography aspects of lesser known employees at Walt Disney Studio in the early years. But what we have here is a book with an agenda so thick, that this isn't a biography so much as a platform to scream "white men are pigs." The women (and non white-males) are made out to be god's gift to the world (read: angelic and perfect and supremely talented) while the (obviously Caucasian) men either refuse to do work, jeer at everyone, go to parties, create the worst aspects of Di I was interested in the biography aspects of lesser known employees at Walt Disney Studio in the early years. But what we have here is a book with an agenda so thick, that this isn't a biography so much as a platform to scream "white men are pigs." The women (and non white-males) are made out to be god's gift to the world (read: angelic and perfect and supremely talented) while the (obviously Caucasian) men either refuse to do work, jeer at everyone, go to parties, create the worst aspects of Disney films, or have special 'club' areas that no one else can attain so they can lounge/do nothing. The irony to me is that this book is the exact same thing it purports to abhor: it's just as one dimensional in its thinking at the misogynistic/racist men it is lambasting. I want a biography, not a soap box that over-idealizes its subjects into absolute sainthood and turns every one else into cartoonish oafs. Kudos to the women and non-white males who had to work in the Walt Disney Studios in the 1930s-1960s and deal with so many obstacles. I would have liked to have read their stories but the focus in this book is squarely on misogyny and racism aspects of the Walt Disney Studios. The 'biographies' here are just props and so over-exaggerated as to be non believable. The irony for me is that I consider myself a liberal female and even I could not stop rolling my eyes through it all.

  7. 5 out of 5

    MCZ Reads

    Thank you to Goodreads for my copy of this book! I really enjoyed The Queens of Animation... but not for the reasons I thought I would. This book is rich with Disney history and the evolution of animation, and it highlights the work of more women than I expected. But the sheer amount of information meant that each woman is introduced quickly; I had difficulty keeping track of everyone’s names and histories, and by the end I only had the sense of who a handful of the women were as people. I feel t Thank you to Goodreads for my copy of this book! I really enjoyed The Queens of Animation... but not for the reasons I thought I would. This book is rich with Disney history and the evolution of animation, and it highlights the work of more women than I expected. But the sheer amount of information meant that each woman is introduced quickly; I had difficulty keeping track of everyone’s names and histories, and by the end I only had the sense of who a handful of the women were as people. I feel that I learned how women in general fared in the early days of Disney, but retained less specific information about each woman individually. I appreciated that each chapter was titled with a song lyric that had to do with the movie being developed at the time. The strongest chapters were the ones where the song or movie tied into the theme of the chapter. Halfway through the book, these connection seem to falter and it feels as though the chapter is reaching for a connection to the lyric/movie. I also found the inclusion of certain details strange, especially when other details were glossed over or admitted. For example, we learn the exact birthdates of two children (when just years, or maybe years and months, would have sufficed), but there’s only one sentence giving context for the book’s title. Small details about people who are mentioned once could have been simplified to make room for more information about the main characters. The writing throughout the book is very basic. No line or quote stood out as impressive or memorable. What the author does do well is break down old-fashioned technology and complicated animation methods so that someone who has no knowledge of the industry, like me, can follow. The coverage of how the films were made and the art styles of each woman, and her influence on respective movies, is the book’s biggest strength, and why I’ll be keeping a copy on my shelf. That being said, these explanations sometimes define a very simple or common word, or describe a relatively modern technique, as if it’s already out of date. I guess there’s nothing wrong with writing for an audience a long time from now, but I’d never seen that before and I found it momentarily jarring. I don’t know how I feel about the authorial tone of the book. It is not at all objective. For the most part, I agree with the author—what these women endured from their coworkers was terrible, and the racism of certain Disney films is shameful—but I’ve never seen it explicitly called that outside of an op-ed. Again, I mostly agree with the author, but the tone painted a story that was strictly black and white. This made the portrayal of Walt Disney confusing. The way this history is presented makes him either gross or charming, callous or compassionate... whatever the anecdote calls for. He’s not given any nuance. Granted, this is not his story, but frankly it means the women are always portrayed as saints. They are the heroines of this story, but I think readers would allow them their due credit even if they were flawed. I learned more about the history of women involved with Disney; I specifically learned more about Disney’s history and the cultural context of the most well-known films. So I’m happy I read this book, even if the learning happened in a roundabout way. I’d recommend this for fans of Disney and students of art and animation. The book made me want to look up the older movies on Disney+ and look for the art techniques described in the book, and I hope others do the same.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    Note: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review. “The rise of women in the workplace, no matter what side of the world it occurred on, was frightening to some men, and they approached the perceived threat much as toddlers would a monster under the bed — by crying about it.” Nathalia Holt’s book tells the story of the women who helped shape the early days of Disney Studios and its projects. Before reading this, I only knew about Mary Blair, but was very excited to Note: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review. “The rise of women in the workplace, no matter what side of the world it occurred on, was frightening to some men, and they approached the perceived threat much as toddlers would a monster under the bed — by crying about it.” Nathalia Holt’s book tells the story of the women who helped shape the early days of Disney Studios and its projects. Before reading this, I only knew about Mary Blair, but was very excited to learn about other women, including Bianca Majolie, Sylvia Holland, and Retta Scott. Their stories were eye-opening, to say the least. Their contributions to Disney films such as Snow White, Bambi, Cinderella, Dumbo, Pinocchio, Peter Pan and even Saludos Amigos are criminally understated and unknown. I would go so far as to say that these works wouldn’t have existed without the talent and creativity of these women. These queens of animation had incredible hurdles to overcome, including pay inequity and their male coworkers stealing their ideas, but they persisted and helped make the studio into what it is. Reading about the horrors of sexism and misogyny that they had to endure was especially harrowing. One incident that stood out was when Holt detailed at time that Majolie brought up one of her ideas at a storyboarding meeting, and Disney disliked the idea so much that he ripped up her sketches. The other men in the meeting began jeering at her, and Majolie ran out of the room and locked herself in her office. The men followed, eager to hurl further abuse at her, and actually broke down her wooden office door to yell at her some more. Disney reportedly said of the incident that it was one of the reasons that the studio shouldn’t hire women, as they couldn’t take ‘a little criticism.’ The Queens of Animation is an ambitious, engrossing book, covering aspects of Disney Studios history that many, including myself, would be unaware of. World and domestic politics, World War II, efforts to unionize, the shifting role of women in society and the workforce, money, segregation and racism… So much contributed to the path that Disney Studios took with its early work. Holt also forces the reader to confront uncomfortable truths about many of those involved with Disney Studios, from artists and animators complacency in the face of racism and misogyny to Walt Disney himself. A moment that resonated with me was when Holt questions whether Mary Blair, a favorite of Disney’s, could have utilized her privilege to speak out more on the racism inherent in Song of the South, one of if not the most controversial Disney pieces. This made for compelling if tough reading, and I’m thankful for Holt bringing attention to social justice issues as well as the women who helped shape Disney Studios and its classics. The Queens of Animation will be released on October 22, 2019.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Edes

    This book should have been called The History of Animation at Disney. I had issues with several things. The author would briefly introduce a female animator, give a sentence or two about her, then proceed to move on to minute technical details about the process being used at that time to create animation. By the time she got back to talking about the woman, I had forgotten who she was referring to and had to reorient myself. When I sifted out all of the technical information and the details about This book should have been called The History of Animation at Disney. I had issues with several things. The author would briefly introduce a female animator, give a sentence or two about her, then proceed to move on to minute technical details about the process being used at that time to create animation. By the time she got back to talking about the woman, I had forgotten who she was referring to and had to reorient myself. When I sifted out all of the technical information and the details about Disney's financial woes, there was actually very little meat to her stories about the women animators. I thought they were supposed to be the heart of the story. Overall, this was a very disappointing read and I would not recommend it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    Pre-reading: Hoping there would be something about Mary Blair. After reading: And so there was plenty about Mary Blair. I had no idea that her lively, colorful, emotionally-rich art was created amidst such tragic personal life. Legendary woman. Nathalia Holt's newest book is more of a Disney Animation Studios' biography from a female lens. She does a thorough job recreating lives and inner monologues of many women of the studio, whose voices were otherwise forgotten. The narrative can be a bit bum Pre-reading: Hoping there would be something about Mary Blair. After reading: And so there was plenty about Mary Blair. I had no idea that her lively, colorful, emotionally-rich art was created amidst such tragic personal life. Legendary woman. Nathalia Holt's newest book is more of a Disney Animation Studios' biography from a female lens. She does a thorough job recreating lives and inner monologues of many women of the studio, whose voices were otherwise forgotten. The narrative can be a bit bumpy though. Holt can be talking about one animation feature, then suddenly dropping it in favor of another, then going on a tangent about her subject's personal life, then coming back to movie #2, then switching again, then talking about the life of some man involved in the third movie. Then you start wondering if you should know this name or that, and it gets a bit confusing. It's a grande tour of a very complicated subject with many players involved, so some clarity would have been appreciated. Good book on history of animation though!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Natalie (CuriousReader)

    Finally got around to writing a review of this, my favourite book of 2020, here: https://curiousreaderr.wordpress.com/... Finally got around to writing a review of this, my favourite book of 2020, here: https://curiousreaderr.wordpress.com/...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    It was the 1956 rerelease of Fantasia that rocked my world. I was four years old and Mom took me to a Buffalo, NY theater to see my first movie. The images and the music made a lasting impression, driving a lifelong love for symphonic music. I already was in love with illustrative art, thanks to the Little Golden Books that my mother brought home from her weekly grocery shopping trips. My favorite was I Can Fly, illustrated by Mary Blair. And on my wall were Vacu-Form Nursery Rhyme characters in It was the 1956 rerelease of Fantasia that rocked my world. I was four years old and Mom took me to a Buffalo, NY theater to see my first movie. The images and the music made a lasting impression, driving a lifelong love for symphonic music. I already was in love with illustrative art, thanks to the Little Golden Books that my mother brought home from her weekly grocery shopping trips. My favorite was I Can Fly, illustrated by Mary Blair. And on my wall were Vacu-Form Nursery Rhyme characters including Little Bo Peep, Little Boy Blue--which I later discovered were also designed by Mary Blair! And even later in life, I learned that Mary Blair had worked for Walt Disney. And of course, growing up in the 1950s, anything Disney was a favorite. Especially the 1959 release of Sleeping Beauty. I was still in my 'princess' phase, which came after my 'cowboy gunslinger' phase. Mom took me to see the film. I had the Disney Sleeping Beauty coloring book. I had the Little Golden Book. And I had the Madame Alexander Sleeping Beauty doll! Sadly, my dog chewed it up but in my 40s I purchased one on eBay to satisfy my inner child. Fast forward to the late 1980s and my husband and I were buying up Disney videotapes for our son, raising another generation of Disney fandom. His first theatrical movie was The Little Mermaid. My fandom never took me as far as to read books about the Disney franchise or Walt. Until The Queens of Animation: The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History. I remembered my love of Mary Blair and thought, Nathalia Holt has something here. I wanted to know the names and the contributions of these unknown women. It was a joyful read, at once a nostalgic trip into the films that charmed and inspired my childhood-- and our son's --and a revealing and entertaining read about the development of animation and the rise of women in a male-dominated culture. I put aside all other books. Holt concentrates on the women's careers but includes enough biographical information to make them real and sympathetic. I was so moved to read about Mary Blair's abusive marriage. Holt also does a stellar job of explaining the rising technologies that would impact animation, eventually eliminating the jobs of hundreds of artists. We learn about Walt's interest in each story that inspired the animated movies and the hard work to develop the story, art, and music, along with the conflicts and competition behind the scenes. I learned so many interesting facts! Like how Felix Salten's novel Bambi: A Life in the Woods was banned in Nazi Germany because it was a metaphor for Anti-Semitism! How Mary Louise Weiser originated the grease pencil, one of the many technologies Disney developed and perfected or quickly adapted. And I loved the story of Fantasia. Bianca Majolie presented the music selections to Walt, including The Nutcracker Suite's Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Waltz of the Flowers. Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker ballet had never yet been produced in the United States at the time! The male animators did not want to work on illustrating fairies (they instead created the Pastoral Symphony's centaurs and oversexualized centaurettes, including an African-American servant who was part mule instead of horse). Choreographer George Balanchine was touring the studio with Igor Stravinsky, whose The Rite of Spring was included in Fantasia, and he loved the faires in the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies. Fifteen years later he debuted The Nutcracker at the new Lincoln Center and it became a Christmastime annual tradition. I just loved this book for so many reasons! I was given access to a free egalley by the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Porter Broyles

    Queens of Animation gives us a unique view behind the curtain. There are really three broad categories that I think have to be explored in this book: 1) The mini-biographies of the women involved--- I thought Holt did a very good job introducing us to a plethora of women who worked for Disney and made their marks there. These women were phenomenal women but not all emerged on top. Some had tragic stories, this gave them depth. The fact that some of these women's stories ended tragically or differ Queens of Animation gives us a unique view behind the curtain. There are really three broad categories that I think have to be explored in this book: 1) The mini-biographies of the women involved--- I thought Holt did a very good job introducing us to a plethora of women who worked for Disney and made their marks there. These women were phenomenal women but not all emerged on top. Some had tragic stories, this gave them depth. The fact that some of these women's stories ended tragically or differently from the way we would have liked---for different reasons---shows the realities of the times. Some of the women went on to achieve great things at Disney. Some chose different lives. Some were forced into different lives. The book was about women who worked at Disney and made a mark---but how they did so varie from story to story. 2) The stories told behind the stories --- Probably the best part of the book was learning about the stories behind the stories. What problems was Disney facing? Why did they do that movie that way? What was the feedback after that movie? Why did Disney release that movie when everybody told him it would unleash a can of whopass on the studio? What changes were made on the films? Why were they changed? What changes went undone? What stories were story boarded in the 1930/40s, but wouldn't be made int a film until the 80s/90s? 3) Did the story deliver upon its subtitle "The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History Book Discussion". I have no doubt that Holt told the stories of some her protagonist in ways to emphasize their role and impact on Disney, but she could only have done so if that role and impact existed to be emphasize. Many of the stories told in the book indciate that these women not only worked there, but achieved more than a modicum of success. The first woman to be listed on the credits as an artist, the first women to be listed in teh credits as a writer, the first woman to be listed on the credits as a producer, the women who was tasked with identifying and selecting the songs to be used in Fantasia. I have no doubt that for every story of success and achievement made by these women, that there are probably a dozen similar stories that could be told about the men of Disney. But men working for Disney was the norm---what was expected. For the women to achieve what they did, even if it was just reaching the starting line, meant that they had to climb some pretty steep walls. This book does not push an overt feminist agenda---but it does a good job at telling a story about some feminist who changed Hollywood. A STRONG 4 star review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Moonkiszt

    This book found its way onto my to read list because of a recent book about Milicent Patrick, a monster creator and animator, who spent time at the Disney studio as well as some of these talented women. Anyone interested in the roots of animation, or Disney history would find this (and the above-mentioned) read worth their time. I'm not a big animation fan, but am a child who grew up partially babysat by Popeye, Fred & Wilma, Rocky and Bullwinkle, and all the Disney princesses. I learned a very k This book found its way onto my to read list because of a recent book about Milicent Patrick, a monster creator and animator, who spent time at the Disney studio as well as some of these talented women. Anyone interested in the roots of animation, or Disney history would find this (and the above-mentioned) read worth their time. I'm not a big animation fan, but am a child who grew up partially babysat by Popeye, Fred & Wilma, Rocky and Bullwinkle, and all the Disney princesses. I learned a very key truth about me through this process. I love the bad guys and girls, the quirkier, the better. So my interest is held by a slippery thread. . .I'm not much interested in Sleeping Beauty (my fav of the D movies). . . I LOVE MALIFICENT! Boris and Natasha? YASSSSS! Popeye? I wanted Brutus. . . . Felix the Cat? Poindexter, of course. I digress. . . As in the book about Milicent, this one underscores the constant uphill battle in which a working woman had to engage just by breathing and being in the mix with working men who had every advantage of being on top just because of body parts present in that (and all industries). These women rarely to never got credit for their work, and every day saw men take their ideas and run with them, claim them, and if the girls tried to call them on it in any form, witnesses who could have supported their claims melted away. These ladies are all gone now, and I am ever grateful for these authors who are showing us their art, talents and efforts to survive. Every acknowledgement of inequities done, past, present and future for every human who has been deprived of fairness makes us better, helps us think twice (or as many gosh-darned times as it takes to think and get it right!), and allows our children to see we CAN change our minds and it doesn't destroy us. It makes us better people to say, yep, we were wrong, are sorry for it, and let's move on to a smoother future for posterity. . . .can we please do that? Anyway. Good book. 3.5 stars rounded up.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Book Club of One

    I received a free copy of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. The Queens of Animation is the story of Disney’s female workforce over the course of the company’s history. Like other works discussing women’s history in the 20 th century this one follows the big historical events: struggles through the depression, expansion of women’s roles in the WwII homefront, post war regression and changes brought/ forced by technological advance. For Disney it seems nothing is new, every film was considere I received a free copy of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. The Queens of Animation is the story of Disney’s female workforce over the course of the company’s history. Like other works discussing women’s history in the 20 th century this one follows the big historical events: struggles through the depression, expansion of women’s roles in the WwII homefront, post war regression and changes brought/ forced by technological advance. For Disney it seems nothing is new, every film was considered years or decades ago. Tokenism still seems present as well as the battles to portray female characters realistically. What I did not expect was how little I was able to differentiate between all of the women featured in this book. Mary had to contend with domestic abuse, but is the only one who’s name I remember. One of the others really really wanted to be a pilot, several were single mothers working to keep their children. All were driven and talented. Readers are provided many brief biographies, but many seem to flitter away as soon as they’re introduced. In discussing the culture of the workplace, it is made clear that it was male dominated and focused, with credit typically going to men aside from a few, rare credits. What we would now call sexual harassment or a hostile workplace are detailed, or remembered by anecdote, but not given a whole lot of analysis or discussion. The removal of John Lasseter gets a mention but only that. As is often for books like this, the earlier history is told in great depth, but as the book continues explanations and depth of coverage are lessened as we approach modern day. I would have liked to hear more about the development of many of the films, or learn more about motivations of those involved (as possible by documentation). Not a book I plan to recommend to anyone. It is not comprehensive enough to be a history of Disney nor is it that effective in meeting its title, I feel there is still much of this story to tell.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Geonn Cannon

    I really enjoyed this. The story of Disney told through the women who made the studio what it is today. I always thought Disney was a big unstoppable powerhouse, so it was interesting to read about how often they bombed and came close to losing everything. Side note which only applies to the audio version: whenever the narrator quoted an article or news report, her voice was filtered to sound like it was coming from an old-time radio speaker. It was a nifty little piece of flavor that I apprecia I really enjoyed this. The story of Disney told through the women who made the studio what it is today. I always thought Disney was a big unstoppable powerhouse, so it was interesting to read about how often they bombed and came close to losing everything. Side note which only applies to the audio version: whenever the narrator quoted an article or news report, her voice was filtered to sound like it was coming from an old-time radio speaker. It was a nifty little piece of flavor that I appreciated a lot.

  17. 5 out of 5

    The Library Lady

    This is the second and last book that I have read by this author. She has a gift for taking potentially terrific material about little known women and making a hash of it. Interesting tidbits here, such George Balanchine's role in the creation of the Nutcracker scenes in "Fantasia," and how that may have been the seeds of his later staging of what is now THE holiday ballet, get lost, and as in her previous book, so do the women she seeks to honor. This is the second and last book that I have read by this author. She has a gift for taking potentially terrific material about little known women and making a hash of it. Interesting tidbits here, such George Balanchine's role in the creation of the Nutcracker scenes in "Fantasia," and how that may have been the seeds of his later staging of what is now THE holiday ballet, get lost, and as in her previous book, so do the women she seeks to honor.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Van Parys

    Great information and writing about the women who were forgotten but still shaped the animation at Disney. I'm glad this information has become more known and that we are able to learn about these women. I dreamed of working for Disney as a young kid and it was actually Disney cartoons that inspired me to teach myself to draw in the first place - so I basically owe my drawing ability to Disney and these women (and also to my own hard work, but I wouldn't have been inspired without my love of Dis Great information and writing about the women who were forgotten but still shaped the animation at Disney. I'm glad this information has become more known and that we are able to learn about these women. I dreamed of working for Disney as a young kid and it was actually Disney cartoons that inspired me to teach myself to draw in the first place - so I basically owe my drawing ability to Disney and these women (and also to my own hard work, but I wouldn't have been inspired without my love of Disney and animation as an art form). Sadly, that dream never came true (I lost interest when everything became digital) but I can still draw a mean portrait or cartoon whenever I want to! I took for granted that women had such a hard time making a place for themselves in a man's world. We still have our share of issues today, but the bravery, skill, and hard work these women put in at Disney blazed the trail for future generations.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Simone

    Really liked this one. It’s my first nonfiction about animation and definitely opened the doors for me to read more about tv, movies, and music. Wasn’t a fan of how the book slowed down after the 1950s, but really appreciated the glimpse into the world of Animation my friends all work in.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jeimy

    When I was very young I was watching the Disney Channel and there was a short newsreel that showed how the grand marshal of the Walt Disney World parade was the winner of the Disney Store's trivia competition. At that moment I knew I had to work hard and earn the right to be grand marshal at the parade. From that day on, I read everything I could about Walt Disney and his legacy. Fast forward to my early adulthood and I win my local trivia championship and get flown to Florida to compete for my s When I was very young I was watching the Disney Channel and there was a short newsreel that showed how the grand marshal of the Walt Disney World parade was the winner of the Disney Store's trivia competition. At that moment I knew I had to work hard and earn the right to be grand marshal at the parade. From that day on, I read everything I could about Walt Disney and his legacy. Fast forward to my early adulthood and I win my local trivia championship and get flown to Florida to compete for my spot as grand marshal. Unfortunately, Kyle got in my way. Kyle had just completed a year at Disney U and he beat me by one question: the name of an intersection. Though my dream was crushed, my fascination for Disney history never deserted me. However, it was not until recently (when I read Pocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaire that I realized I did not know much about the females that helped expand Disney's empire. I devoured this book with its behind-the-scenes look at the way these animators contributed to classic Disney films and its forays into the women's private lives and personal achievements.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jodie

    For someone who grew up with Disney princesses and now lives in a world completely overrun with all things Disney (Disney acquisition of Marvel, anyone?), I was interested in learning more about the women who pioneered roles in the world of Disney. Unfortunately, the author projected her own ideas throughout the book and obscured the legacy of the very women she wished to highlight. The prose was disjointed and jerky, the timeline hard to follow, and the female animators ended up feeling less al For someone who grew up with Disney princesses and now lives in a world completely overrun with all things Disney (Disney acquisition of Marvel, anyone?), I was interested in learning more about the women who pioneered roles in the world of Disney. Unfortunately, the author projected her own ideas throughout the book and obscured the legacy of the very women she wished to highlight. The prose was disjointed and jerky, the timeline hard to follow, and the female animators ended up feeling less alive than their animations. Perhaps in the future an author with less of an agenda and more talent will do these trailblazing women justice.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Karin

    Women's History written during the #MeToo times. I am a woman, of course I have had my me too moments--so many I really don't remember most of them, just some of the more egregious ones, but the feeling that one gets during them, that isn't something one forgets. That said, this isn't about sexual innuendos that way, just about the enormous amount of horribleness it was just to be a woman in this field. Men were openly nasty about it, you were paid less, it was virtually impossible to advance, an Women's History written during the #MeToo times. I am a woman, of course I have had my me too moments--so many I really don't remember most of them, just some of the more egregious ones, but the feeling that one gets during them, that isn't something one forgets. That said, this isn't about sexual innuendos that way, just about the enormous amount of horribleness it was just to be a woman in this field. Men were openly nasty about it, you were paid less, it was virtually impossible to advance, and so on. That said, we get quite a bit about the brilliance of some of the early women, including one whose art was a favourite of Walt to the point that her husband harboured jealously about it even after she died, even though the Disneys and the Blairs were close friends. They have done some amazing things. The tide has turned, and it is thanks to women that we finally got characters like Mulan, the one in Brave, and Frozen (it was women who turned it into the story of sisters, etc, etc). One of the things I liked is that it followed the lives and careers of a few of the women after they quit or were fired (many, many people were fired at a couple of points, men and women). Not all of the women pioneers were white, but of course there was also racism. Gyo Fujikawa was one of the earlier women to work there before she left. As the doors opened to more people of colour, a great deal of Mulan's story was shaped by Rita Hsai, a Chinese American woman born in Florida. So as hard as it still can be for women, we have made some headway. Let's hope it continues.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Abby Filsinger

    This is a must read for women Disney fans, really every Disney fan should read it but I think women will be struck much harder by the content. There was so much I never knew about the women who started it all who never got the acknowledgment they deserved but author Nathalia Holt let’s them take a bow.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Katelynn

    4.5 stars. I really enjoyed this one. I loved learning about the women who helped mold a field I love so much and I loved getting an inside look into the making of so many classic Disney films. My only qualm with the book is the flow of it felt very choppy at times and some stories were left in flux and never properly concluded.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    This book was amazing. I'm fascinated by the story of Disney in general but this insight was incredible. I could not put this book down which is saying a lot for a non fiction. If you like Disney animated movies you should read this book. This book was amazing. I'm fascinated by the story of Disney in general but this insight was incredible. I could not put this book down which is saying a lot for a non fiction. If you like Disney animated movies you should read this book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Emily O

    I consider myself very lucky to have grown up during the Disney Renaissance (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, etc.) I have been a Disney nerd ever since. As soon as I saw The Queens of Animation was going to be releasing this fall, I knew I needed to read it. (Thank you @littlebrown #partner) Pub Day: 10/22/2019 . The Queens of Animation explores the (often unacknowledged) role of women in the history Disney Animation (1930s-present). . I really enjoyed this book. While the struc I consider myself very lucky to have grown up during the Disney Renaissance (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, etc.) I have been a Disney nerd ever since. As soon as I saw The Queens of Animation was going to be releasing this fall, I knew I needed to read it. (Thank you @littlebrown #partner) Pub Day: 10/22/2019 . The Queens of Animation explores the (often unacknowledged) role of women in the history Disney Animation (1930s-present). . I really enjoyed this book. While the structure of the book is the timeline of the studio’s history, Holt does a great job weaving individual women’s stories into the timeline. She maintains a balance of discussing the women’s contributions while also telling the history of each film, technological advances and hardships these women had to overcome personally and professionally. What was most fascinating was the glacial pace at which women were given credit or even fully appreciated for their work. Even as late as the 90s, Disney was still considered a boys club. Holt also offers interesting perspective on the evolution of female characters in Disney movies from damsels in distress that need to be saved by a prince to independent fighters (Mulan, Merida, Moana). . There weren’t many downsides to this book. I will say there is a decent amount of technical talk about cameras, technology, and animation that may make some glaze over (I find it fascinating). There were just a handful of anecdotes about some of the women that didn’t move the book along, but did paint a better picture of who they were. . Overall, this was a very interesting and fascinating perspective on Disney Animation history. Now, please excuse me while I watch every Disney and Pixar movie.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Toni_B_Librarian

    "The Queens of Animation" offers a chronological view of the lives and work of women writers and artists at Disney studios, from Snow White to Frozen. Author Nathalia Holt presents their story sympathetically, detailing the slights they experienced, such as being left out of film credits and receiving far lower pay than their male counterparts. Holt describes the boy's club atmosphere that permeated the studio throughout much of the twentieth century--there was in fact a Disney club only for top "The Queens of Animation" offers a chronological view of the lives and work of women writers and artists at Disney studios, from Snow White to Frozen. Author Nathalia Holt presents their story sympathetically, detailing the slights they experienced, such as being left out of film credits and receiving far lower pay than their male counterparts. Holt describes the boy's club atmosphere that permeated the studio throughout much of the twentieth century--there was in fact a Disney club only for top male animators and executives--and how sometimes women managed creative and artistic triumphs despite this, while at other times they were thwarted, frustrated, and even driven to desperation. While there are many names and storylines to follow in this history, Holt does an admirable job of making clear who's who and presenting the women she describes as complex and memorable people. The most compelling figure is perhaps Mary Blair, whose colorful, modern artwork informed Disney animation for decades even as she faced sexism at work and personal tragedy at home. Holt is likely at her best in describing the era when Disney animation was at its midcentury peak, though I may have found this to be the meatiest and most enjoyable part of her work because my own favorite Disney films were produced in this era. But as overt sexism begins to wane in the late twentieth century, one of the central themes of the author's work begins to fade from view, and I can't help but think that the book might have been stronger if it had been shorter and focused more strictly on the first thirty years or so of women's experiences with the studio. Some may find that Holt's description of the men at the studio to be over-the-top or a pile-on; but the women of Disney clearly suffered in a climate where they were often not paid like their male colleagues, respected as they were, nor empowered as they were. Holt's work might be a popular history in the vein of her earlier "The Rise of the Rocket Girls," but she meticulously provides her sources. If the men of Disney are portrayed here as at times having the boorishness of Gaston, the conniving of Scar, or the arrogance of Shere Khan, there are also times in the account where men--including Walt Disney himself--are allies, giving women opportunities, embracing their contributions and honoring them (even if not enough). It's a nuanced picture and a hopeful one, as cultural shifts are leading more women to enter animation and cultural reckonings like #metoo lead all of us to reassess where we have been as a society and where the future might head.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Phyllis

    Thanks to Book Club Cookbook's Galley Match program and publisher Little, Brown and Company for a copy of this book. My thoughts and opinions are my own. I have always been a fan of anything related to Walt Disney (animation, films, Disneyland, the Wonderful World of Disney, the Disney Museum) so I couldn't wait to read this book, and I found it fascinating. The author did an admirable job of researching the history of the women who worked as animators for Walt Disney Studios and then weaving the Thanks to Book Club Cookbook's Galley Match program and publisher Little, Brown and Company for a copy of this book. My thoughts and opinions are my own. I have always been a fan of anything related to Walt Disney (animation, films, Disneyland, the Wonderful World of Disney, the Disney Museum) so I couldn't wait to read this book, and I found it fascinating. The author did an admirable job of researching the history of the women who worked as animators for Walt Disney Studios and then weaving the facts into a dramatic true story. From the early animated films of Snow White to the live action feature films, to Pixar and Frozen, the development of Disneyland and the various animation technologies - the book focused on the women who were crucial in developing the look, sound, and branding of Disney animation. What makes this book so readable is that in addition to their professional lives, Holt shared their personal lives. They battled sexism, domestic abuse, workplace intimidation, competition, and relationships. And a most important factor - they successfully fought to transform the way female characters were depicted for young audiences.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Biblio Files (takingadayoff)

    I expected the book to be about the two or three women who created art for Disney studios during the heyday. I was surprised to find that about six women are profiled in detail and another eight or ten are introduced in passing. In addition to the stories of some exceptional artists, this is the story of the Disney studio when they were making groundbreaking movies such as Snow White and Bambi and Fantasia. Disney thought that feature length animated movies should be for adults but also appeal t I expected the book to be about the two or three women who created art for Disney studios during the heyday. I was surprised to find that about six women are profiled in detail and another eight or ten are introduced in passing. In addition to the stories of some exceptional artists, this is the story of the Disney studio when they were making groundbreaking movies such as Snow White and Bambi and Fantasia. Disney thought that feature length animated movies should be for adults but also appeal to children. This was news to me that children were not the target audience for the big animated projects, although I think Mickey Mouse and the other short cartoons were aimed at children. It makes you look at the movies in a new way. It was very inspiring to read about the artists like Mary Blair and Biancha Majolie who left their distinctive styles on such projects as It's a Small World and Bambi. After enjoying Nathalia Holt's Rise of the Rocket Girls and Queens of Animation, I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    I read this book, not because of its subject, but because of its author. A couple years ago, I read Nathalia Holt's amazing RISE OF THE ROCKET GIRLS, in which the PhD science writer told the true story of the women behind the space race. Never before would I have thought I, who am in the humanities, would understand anything about rocket science. But Holt explained in a clear, legible way. In addition, her book read like fiction and I was caught up in all of the women's stories. Holt repeats this I read this book, not because of its subject, but because of its author. A couple years ago, I read Nathalia Holt's amazing RISE OF THE ROCKET GIRLS, in which the PhD science writer told the true story of the women behind the space race. Never before would I have thought I, who am in the humanities, would understand anything about rocket science. But Holt explained in a clear, legible way. In addition, her book read like fiction and I was caught up in all of the women's stories. Holt repeats this magic in THE QUEENS OF ANIMATION, in which she reveals the forgotten history of the women behind the famous Disney animated movies. I must admit, I have never been a huge Disney fan. Yes, I watched many of the classics as a kid, but I was not a princess-loving girl. Despite not having a deep love for Disney, I was completely hooked on this book. Like RISE OF THE ROCKET GIRLS, this reads like fiction. I was caught up in the office politics of the 1930s and 1940s, with the stories of Bianca Majolie, Mary Blair, and Retta (my favorite characters) and their challenges of being women working in a man's world. As a woman working in 2020, it's hard to imagine what it was like for these working women just a little less than 100 years ago. Holt also deftly explains the technology of creating animated films. I especially liked learning about new new technologies that helped with visual effects. While Holt mainly focuses on the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, she does extend all the way to the past few years with movies like Moana and Frozen so the reader learns about computer animation. I liked seeing the entire evolution and how Mary Blair and the other women paved the way for the women working in animation today. Along the way, I learned a lot about these classic movies: their original sources, the story meetings at Disney, the development, and the animation. In addition, all of this is put into the historical, societal, and racial contexts. Now I have to wait another couple years until Holt's next book. I can't wait to see what her next topic will be, but I know she'll reveal another story of strong, independent, powerful women.

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