Mary Blair is best know as a Disney illustrator, whose modernist, stylized illustrations formed the basis for the It's a Small World ride and facade, as well as several of the best-loved murals in the parks. But she also worked as a general commercial illustrator, producing a good sheaf of advertising work as well as five illustrated Golden Books.
A Mary Blair Treasury of Golden Books, a new volume, collects these books in one absolutely essential volume. Blair's work is always fantastic, but you couldn't ask for a better showcase than her book-illustration portfolio. One of the anthologized titles is I Can Fly, written by Ruth Krauss, which won the Picture Book Honor at the 1951 New York Tribune Children's Spring Book Festival, but each one of these is worthy of an illustration award, and collectively they showcase both her breadth and the unity of her vision.
Other books included in the anthology include The Golden Book of Little Verses and The New Golden Song Book. which showcase her economical gift for two-page spreads that simultaneously illustrate several shorter pieces woven among the pictures.
All the written material still holds up today — I read the book through for my daughter today to her great pleasure — but the art is what really makes it sing. What a treat.
If you're interested in other Mary Blair picture books, be sure and check out the astounding Alice in Wonderland edition Disney published a few years back. Click through the jump for some examples from the book that Random House publicity was kind enough to send along.