The folks at DK Publishing sent me home from Comic-Con with this gem: Pixarpedia, a big coffee-table book full of images and facts from all of Pixar’s movies and shorts (up to last year’s Up; the book was published last fall). It’s arranged in chronological order, starting with Toy Story, with several pages on each movie. There’s a short description of each movie, character bios for everyone from the stars of each show to minor characters you didn’t even know had names (and some who don’t). If you and your kids love Pixar, this is a pretty cool book. My six-year-old daughter and three-year-old Cars-obsessed nephew have been poring over the book for the past few days. My daughter loves reading about all the movies that she’s seen and learning more about them. My nephew was delighted by the pages and pages of Cars characters, particularly because there were so many more names to learn. (There’s an entire page with all the racecars.)
Of course, as everyone knows, the wonderful thing about Pixar is that their movies aren’t just for kids. Aside from the excellent storytelling that puts the rest of Hollywood to shame, the movies are full of hidden visual jokes, nods to previous Pixar films, and even hints at future films. My favorite part of the book is toward the back, where there’s a bit about each feature film and some of the hidden secrets: A113, John Lasseter’s animation classroom, is referenced in every movie, and the Pizza Planet truck makes an appearance as well. There are hidden Mickey Mouse heads, and characters from other Pixar films often have cameos.
The text of the book is not as stellar as the scripts for the movies, often just describing the scene in which a character appears, but the full-page images and short factoids are just right for taking a small taste at a time. Also, because it’s a large book, your kids will need to be careful—the three-year-old had trouble carrying it by himself. My biggest gripe? In the bit about the Etch-a-Sketch, they call it a “magnetic” drawing toy, but as any Etch-a-Sketch artist knows, it’s aluminum powder, friction and static—no magnets involved.
The Pixarpedia retails for $40, and is available on Amazon for about $27.
Wired: Pages and pages of pictures, character bios, and trivia about Pixar films.
Tired: The writing is a bit weak.
Jonathan Liu is, in fact, an Etch-a-Sketch artist.