A Tribute to Mary Blair (1911-1978)
If you grew up watching Disney’s Peter Pan and Cinderella or once drifted along in a boat on the “It’s A Small World” ride at Disneyland, then you’re well-acquainted with Mary Blair’s unique artwork. Blair was honored as a Disney legend in 1991 for her designs during the golden age of animation. In October 2011, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored her with a “Centennial Tribute” at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. There’s even an iPhone app for her “It’s A Small World” design.
Blair is also famous for the enduring appeal of her Little Golden Book series. In her illustrations for the classic book I Can Fly by Ruth Krauss, she seems to encourage even the most timid child to attempt acts of bravery. From her first image of a small, raven-haired beauty flying high in the sky on her swing that accompanies the line, “A bird can fly, so can I” to her picture of the little girl boldly proclaiming, “Who can climb anywhere? Me! Like a bear” as she scoots up the banister, it’s a triumph in children’s picture books. Blair emboldened children yet always imbued her illustrations with warmth and humor. She made her readers believe they could be anything and do anything.
The latest update on her Baby’s House was just reissued as a Golden Baby board book. It’s perfect for little hands to hold and cherish as they flip through baby’s explorations around the house while Mama knits and Papa smokes his pipe, in his robe and slippers, and reads the newspaper. Baby has certainly come a long way since 1950. Yet she still resourcefully brushes her teeth and washes dishes convincing youngsters they too can take care of themselves. In August 2012, A Mary Blair Treasury of Golden Books will be published. I’m delighted Blair’s original artwork will be available for future generations to treasure.
Below are a few more books about this beloved artist:
Walt Disney’s Peter Pan by Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson and Mary Blair
What is your favorite book by Mary Blair?
Nicki Richesin is the editor of four anthologies,What I Would Tell Her: 28 Devoted Dads on Bringing Up, Holding On To, and Letting Go of Their Daughters; Because I Love Her: 34 Women Writers Reflect on the Mother-Daughter Bond; Crush: 26 Real-Life Tales of First Love; and The May Queen: Women on Life, Work, and Pulling it all Together in your Thirties. Her anthologies have been excerpted and praised in The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, Redbook, Parenting, Cosmopolitan, Bust, Salon, Daily Candy, and Babble.