Monday, December 9, 2013

Between Books - The Book of Mouse

As we have heard it said many times, "It all started with a mouse!"  And Jim Korkis in his newest book looks to tell the history of Mickey Mouse, set some myths straight and provide reference material about the world's most famous mouse.

Korkis in The Book of Mouse: A Celebration of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse collects 300 pages of history and reference materials related to Disney's most famous animated creation.  The book is written in an essay format.  The first section captures stories of Mickey Mouse's birth and early years.  This is followed by looks into Mickey Mouse's big screen history including a annotated filmography.  Korkis follows this with a discussion of Mickey Mouse in the parks.  And he closes with a some words about the relationship between Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney.

The book reads to me like a collection of essays and supportive materials.  This makes sense, as Korkis has published a number of blog and magazine articles over the years on pretty much everything Disney.  In fact, I would guess that some of these essays began as essays published in other locations.  So I would say, anyone who enjoys Korkis' writing is going to enjoy this offering since his tone and presentation is consistent with his overall body of writings.  The fact that this is a book of essays also means some articles are short and others are longer due to the amount of information that has been uncovered on the topic.  And though the essays are collected under the same theme they do not always flow with transitions from chapter to chapter, and some essays repeat information, though not an overwhelming amount.  The lack of transition and repeated information for some readers will be an advantage, since the book can be used for just in time information where you do not have to read the chapters before to get an understanding of the topic you want to explore.  

Korkis does a good job of uncovering myths and providing new information.  For example I did not realize that Plane Crazy, Mickey's first produced short, featured another innovation with camera movement in animation.  Additionally Korkis shatters the myth that Steamboat Willie was the first synchronized sound cartoon!  And the book made it abundantly clear to me that Mickey Mouse is not a character, but is in fact an actor.  And as an actor, Mickey can be flexible and be dropped into a number of situations just like any other actor.  I wonder if Mickey should take over as Iron Man!  Other new information that I really enjoyed was the chapter on Paul Castle, who helped Mickey Mouse for several decades.  The chapter is fantastic and for me brought a lot of new information about the behind the scenes preparation to bring Mickey Mouse onto stage. 

The reference materials are also somewhat useful.  While I do not enjoy the chapters consisting of miscellaneous quotes and facts on Mickey, other reference materials were a huge success for me.  I have already made notes from the Annotated Filmography for future posts.  And looking through it shows the impact that World War II had on the studio and the production of Mickey Mouse cartoons in a visual way.  

Jim Korkis' The Book of Mouse helps illuminate and expand Disney fans' understanding of Mickey Mouse and his history and relationship with Walt Disney.  Fans of Jim Korkis are sure to enjoy this Mickey Mouse offering.  And every reader will surely have a better understanding of Mickey Mouse and his importance in Disney history. 

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

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