The Art of The Secret World Of Arrietty: Book Review

Books GeekMom



Viz Media Studio Ghibli Collection

As a child, I spent many a happy afternoon poring over a gigantic book called “The Art Of Walt Disney.” It sat on our bookshelf collecting dust, until one day I discovered it there, and lugged it down. It turned out that my dad had brought it back from one of his many business trips. The story behind how he got the book is a little murky in my memory. I seem to remember him saying that he had meetings in Orlando, FL, and while he was there, he was given a tour through the underbelly of Walt Disney World, and they gave him this book at the end of the tour. I guess I dismissed his story about the getting of the book in a very kid-like way as “yeah yeah yeah YOU GOT BOOK NOW GIVE ME BOOK GIMMMEEEEE.” I really should ask him about it again.

Anyway, inside were gorgeous drawings and stories, and just tons of things to discover. There were plates of background animation for both popular and obscure Disney cartoons and films, penciled drawings, vintage photos, and notes from Walt Disney – among many other wonderful details. I never got tired of it. So when fellow GeekMom Corrina asked me if I wanted to review The Art of The Secret World Of Arrietty, compliments of Viz media, I jumped at the chance to give this book a go.

Of course, at two and a half, my daughter is way too young for this book. But it doesn’t stop me from leafing through it with her. After all, she loves looking at my Howl’s Moving Castle book, and I look forward to reading it with her someday. I feel the same way about this book. We enjoy talking about Arrietty, and I tell her stories of borrowers that live in OUR house. But right now, this book is truly a treat for mommy.

I love diving into the pages and drinking in the incredible details in the lush background art. The film, which I reviewed last month, was so rich with minutia and lovely things to look at, but it all flew by so fast as the movie progressed. This book gives you the chance to really soak it all in. It’s an absolute pleasure to take all the time in the world appreciating the talent and care that goes into making all of these plates so enchanting.

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I also enjoy the rough sketches of the characters. It’s incredible to see the progression of each one – the way they express themselves, the way they are dressed, the way they wear their hair. Lots of interesting tidbits to be found here – for instance – director Hiromasa Yonebayashi said that he dressed Arrietty in white with her hair down for the scene where Shawn first glimpses her because, “I wanted Shawn to think he’d seen a fairy.”

This is an excellent book for those of you with budding artists in your house. A fun crafty thing to do would be to xerox some of the pages with rough sketches and give them to your children to trace, or try drawing free hand.

At the end you’ll find the complete voice over script for the film. In case you want to practice your best Hara impression.

Right now, this book is serving as excellent inspiration for the faerie garden I am plotting out.  And I’m already thinking about Halloween 2012. Arrietty would be a fantastic (and remarkably easy) costume for my daughter. Well, there is that clothes pin to figure out…

But most of all, the joy I am finding in this book as I leaf through it again and again, is the hope that someday my daughter will find it on the shelf, take it down, and spend time poring over it, letting her imagination run wild.

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