This Week’s Word Is “Lightyear.”
Toy Story 4 releases June 21st and DK Books is bringing its usual style to two tie-in titles. The Toy Story 4: Official Guide is a slim guide to the movie, for children aged around 7 upwards, whilst the more weighty Disney·Pixar Character Encyclopedia, is perfect for Pixar fans of all ages. The encyclopedia is an updated version from the previous 2012 edition. This allows for the addition of 8 extra movies, accounting for more than a third of Pixar’s total content. An updated version seems more than justified.
What is The Toy Story 4: Official Guide.
This slim volume is similar to the Incredibles 2 volume I reviewed last year. It’s aimed squarely at younger views of the Toy Story movies. The book is filled with character profiles, offering facts about the character in question, “Woody is a vintage toy made in the late 1950s.” Profiles include the human characters as well as the toys.
There are set pieces from the movie that show things like Woody on a rescue mission and the genesis of new character, Forky. Also included, are philosophies from the movie, such as, “How to be a good toy,” and fun quizzes, “Who is your perfect sidekick?” and “Which Toy Are You?”
The book does have mild spoilers; depending on your definition of spoilers. It’s not in the same league as when I read the novelization of Return of the Jedi before going to seeing it at the cinema. Nevertheless, if you’d rather not know what new characters have been introduced or perhaps anything about their role in the movie, it’s probably best that you don’t look at the pages the Toy Story 4: Official Guide. But I guess the clue is sort of in the name. It wouldn’t be much of a guide if it told you nothing about the movie.
Children, I think, are much more forgiving about such things, plus probably don’t have the inference skills to spoil anything for themselves just by reading this book. If you have a Toy Story fan in your household, this book will certainly keep them quiet for a few hours.
If you’d like to pick up a copy of Toy Story 4: Official Guide you can do so, here in the US and, here, in the UK.
What is The Disney·Pixar Character Encyclopedia?
It’s a book detailing over 290 Disney·Pixar characters. Most of the entries are a single page. As there are only 224 pages in the book, this 290 claim is perhaps stretching things a little. Some characters only get a passing mention. Having said that, I’m probably focussing on the wrong part of that number. Whilst some characters get barely a mention, MOST of the characters in the book, (I would estimate, at least 200) get a full page to themselves.
The Disney·Pixar Character Encyclopedia is organized by film, and arranged chronologically by the first film in a series, with original films placed together with their sequels. This means Toy Story opens the book (followed by Toy Story, 2,3 and 4) and Coco closes it. It’s perhaps worth pointing out that Wreck-It Ralph does not feature in the book, because as I’m sure most GeekDad readers know, it’s not a Pixar film. Something which I must confess I hadn’t realized until about 30 minutes ago.
The text of the book is bold and accessible, with lots of sidebars and photo annotations. There are “Did you know?” speech bubbles and stickers too. Whilst there is a fair amount of text to keep older readers interested, the bright visual appeal will keep pre-readers entertained too.
The contents page is an uncharacteristic mess for a DK book and is just simply a list of all the characters in the book. I think the addition of some film headings, to break things up and make it easier to find what you’re looking for, would have been desirable. The color tabs that denote film section within the book are quite muted too. It’s actually quite hard to find a specific character in the book.
This gripe aside, The Disney·Pixar Character Encyclopedia is great for Pixar fans. It’s bright, vibrant, and filled with stills and photos from the film. If the contents page is a bit wonky, it doesn’t really matter, because the book is a joy to flick through.
If your kids are fixating on a particular movie, they can find loads of pictures and information about their favorite characters from their favorite movie. Unless that movie is Coco. There is a peculiar lack of information about the characters in Coco. Miguel and his dog, Dante, get their own page. Everybody else has to share. Considering the power of both Ernesto and Héctor and the brilliance of the film, this is a disappointing state of affairs.
The Disney·Pixar Character Encyclopedia is not without its flaws but nevertheless, it’s still an attractive book. It’s a bright colorful celebration of some of the finest movies ever made.
If you’d like to pick up a copy of The Disney·Pixar Character Encyclopedia you can do so, here in the US and, here, in the UK.
If you enjoyed this review do check my other Word Wednesday reviews.
Disclosure: I received copies of these books in order to write this review.