‘Walt Disney’s Disneyland’ Book Review

Walt Disney was a master of promotion. His Disneyland television show was basically a weekly commercial advertising his upcoming theme park. And in that theme park, he continued this self-promotion with the release, each year, of souvenir booklets, pamphlets, and hardcover books, all designed to keep guests dreaming about Disneyland long after the visit was over!

This post is a review of one such publication:

Walt Disney Book Cover

This 70-page book has no ISBN number and no publisher but does reference Walt Disney Productions. It was printed in the U.S.A. possibly in February of 1971. However, the copyright date is 1969.

Walt Disney Book Introduction

This book was first published in 1964 and was re-released every year afterwards. For how long, I don’t know. Slight changes to this publication likely would have been made as new attractions were added to the park and others removed.

Walt Disney Book Jungle Cruise

The book is filled with beautiful two-page spreads of popular attractions. The Jungle Cruise, above,  is a personal favorite!

Walt Disney Book Skyway

One of the best reasons for purchasing such an old book is because of the history it contains. Attractions like The Skyway, now gone (but rumored to be returning to Walt Disney World), are fun to see again!

Walt Disney Book Collage

Young and Old Enjoy Disneyland

Walt Disney Book Panorama

A panoramic shot like this one shows both the Columbia and the Mark Twain. Would you like to be sitting on one of those benches right now?

Walt Disney Book Riverboat

Beautiful!

Walt Disney Book Small World

The book covers many of the classic attractions with colorful pictures and informative text.

The book actually starts with a brief history of the construction of Disneyland. It then covers each of the cardinal lands in turn: Fantasyland; Adventureland; Frontierland; Tomorrowland; and of course, Main Street U.S.A.

Next it covers the first and second decades of the park in their own sections. New Orleans Square and the updated Tomorrowland are also featured. The book ends with a ‘what is to come’ page featuring the soon-to-be opened Walt Disney World.

COOL FACTOR: 4.5/5

For the casual Disney fan, this book would be a fun read. For the diehard fan, it is an essential read of the history of Disneyland!

I would have given it a higher rating if not for the fact that it is merely a reprint of earlier, essentially the same, publications. But even so, I highly recommend it!

I picked it up at a thrift store for just $5.00 CAN.

Book Review: Along Interstate 75 by Dave Hunter

“The ‘must-have’ Guide for your drive to and from Florida!” This is how Along Interstate 75 is billed on the cover and I can say from personal experience that it’s that and so much more.

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Type: Soft cover

Pages: 206

Publisher: Mile Oak Publishing Inc.

ISBN: 978-1-896819-198

When my wife and I were planning our first drive down to Florida in 2007 we felt a little apprehensive. We hadn’t driven that far into the States before and had no idea how to plan hotel stays and how to find out what to see along the way. Of course, every State has a Welcome Center as you cross the border, but we wanted to do some advanced planning.

We were used to using Birnbaum guides for planning our itinerary at Walt Disney World, and so we checked the travel section at our local book store for similar travel guides. We found Dave Hunter’s Along I-75 and have never looked back!

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With 19 years of publication behind it this guide is quite probably the most comprehensive tourist guide of its kind. Part map, part guide-book, it really does have everything the traveler needs to enjoy the drive between Detroit and Florida and back again.

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This publication also doubles as a history book. If the drive is starting to bore you simply have your navigator (spouse/travel companion) read from the many white pages and enjoy hours of interesting stories about the people and events that happened all around you along the I-75.

But the main use of this publication is as a map. As mentioned, there are separate pages for going to Florida from Detroit, appropriately with yellow borders (for the sun you know!) And another set of pages for traveling back.

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Speed limits, speed traps, exits, alternate routes, gas and food, entertainment, and trivia are all found on each and every page.

The key feature is the ‘upside down’ orientation. If you place the publication on your lap, you can follow the route from the bottom of each page to the top, mimicking the forward direction of your driving. Each page covers approximately 25 miles or 30 minutes of driving time. So if you want to eat in 2 hours, simply turn four pages ahead and check to see what restaurants are available in that area. Want to stop for the night in 4 more hours time? Turn 8 pages ahead and pick your favorite hotel.

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Every vacation must come to an end and you eventually have to drive back to Detroit from Florida, so you simply follow the blue pages home again. Blue for cold. Snow. And depression!

Review: I can’t imagine a more comprehensive but easy to use guide! It is one of the few publications out there that deserves a full 5 out of 5 Stars. I’d give it more if I could!

We hope to put this 19th Edition to good use early next year as we once again take to the American highways (the I-75 specifically) to visit our happy place in Florida. In case you’re wondering, our happy place in Florida is Walt Disney World. Duh!

Book Review: Learning from a Disney Little Golden Book

Partial quote from the back cover of this Little Golden Book – “Is your life more ‘ho-hum’ than ‘heigh-ho’? Have you forgotten how to see the magic in the world around you? To get back that childlike sparkle, look no further than…”

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Publisher: Random House

Type: Hardcover

Pages: 90

ISBN: 978-0-7364-3425-6

Price: $10.99 CAN / $9.99 US

Little Golden Books are timeless treasures covering many different franchises that have lived on children’s bookshelves for decades. Disney versions often contained both classic and contemporary characters, and this volume is no different.

As said, this particular volume features characters both old and new along with some more obscure references. Let’s have a look at some of the pages:

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Examples of modern characters and art styling

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Examples of older characters with vintage art styling

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The two pictures above depict more obscure Disney references. On the left is Once Upon a Wintertime which was a segment in the 1948 Melody Time feature film. On the right is a cover picture from a Giant Golden Book published in 1944. Artwork was done by the great Mary Blair.

The book is laid out as a singular story extolling the virtues of living a good life and of how to do it. Disney characters are used to represent each motivational thought. Only a few words appear on each page making it easy to read to youngsters or for children to read for themselves.

The artwork is charming but my only complaint would be that the small print at the bottom of each page detracts from it.

Review: I would give this publication a 4 out of 5 Stars. The price is a bit high for what it is and I found the text to be a bit repetitive and contrived. Otherwise it is a great little (golden) book!

Book Review: Flying Cars – The True Story

When you first heard the lyrics “Off we go, into the wild, blue, yonder! Off we go…” you probably weren’t thinking of doing so in flying cars. Standard airplanes are the vehicles of choice for the sky! But that was not always the plan.

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Publisher: Clarion Books

ISBN: 978-0-618-98482-4

Type: Hardcover

Pages: 118

Price: $17.99 US

Andrew Glass has put together an interesting chronological listing of flying cars starting from 1901 to the present. He accompanies the facts with little asides about the inventors and the times they lived in, their successes and oft-times spectacular failures.

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How could you not want one of these?

Famous people like the Wright Brothers, Amelia Earhart, and famous classical conductor Leopold Stokowski (of Fantasia fame) all followed the progress of the technology with the last two names actually ordering their own flying cars! Unfortunately, the models they ordered were never put into production. In fact, no flying car has ever been put into production.

But that hasn’t stopped inventors from continuing to design and build prototypes right down to our day.

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If you can drive, why not fly?

The thing that stood out for me in this book is just how close North America came to having flying cars in every garage. Plans were made to position runways next to major highways so commuters could take off and land right next to their freeway exit. One visionary even claimed that rush hour traffic would be eliminated as more and more motorists took to the skies!

I guess no one envisioned traffic jams in the clouds.

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Claims were made that flying one of these babies was as easy as driving your family car. After you learned how to attach and detach the wings and flying controls of course!

I first became aware of flying cars while watching the Disney/Pixar movie Planes which featured a German flying car named Franz Fliegenhosen. He is rendered to be a German 1954 Taylor Aerocar:

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Real or ‘invented’ by Pixar?

Below is a picture of an actual Aerocar from 1949 designed by Moulton B. Taylor:

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Real. But Pixar gussied it up a bit for the movie

What is the same between this real flying car and the one Pixar ‘invented’ is that the Aerocar was the only flying car to carry its plane components behind it on a trailer, like Franz does in the movie. All other models were designed to leave the fuselage behind at an airstrip.

So there you go. For over 100 years inventors have been working on a way to get your Hyundai airborne. The book is chock full of freaky-tiki examples, including my favorite idea, the flying Ford Pinto (it crashed. The idea was abandoned.)

Review: I would give this book a 5 out of 5 Stars but perhaps only 4 Stars for the average reader. It is basically just a chronological look at flying cars, so if you are not interested in the subject matter, you won’t likely be entertained. However, Glass does find the humor in flying cars, if you can imagine that.

My conclusion after reading the book? I. Want. A. Flying. Car.

Book Review: Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull

I was minding my own business (pun intended) while browsing the shelves of my local Chapters book store when I saw a huge poster on the wall advertising Creativity Inc. and I recognized right away that it featured an image from Pixar Studios! Immediately I went on a hunt for the book it was advertising.

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Publisher: Random House Canada

Pages: 340

Type: Hardcover

ISBN: 978-0-307-36117-2

Date: 2014

And what a book it was! Most Disney/Pixar fans will pick up just about anything that is related to these companies. This book however may not find its way onto as many home bookshelves as say, The Art of Tangled or The Story of Walt Disney. Why?

Fair warning: You really need to love reading and the inner workings of business to enjoy, or even understand, this book. But that’s not a bad thing! Stick with it and you will learn some fascinating history behind the making of your favorite Pixar films along with some insights into the characters of the men and women who made them.

But especially this guy:

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Ed Catmull

We all know about John Lasseter and Steve Jobs and their contributions to Pixar’s success. But there are many more people who have made the company’s continued growth and profit possible. Ed Catmull is among these people. And he is generous in noting the hard work of others!

I can’t say much more about the contents of this book. To quote anything would be to print it so radically out of context that it would be impossible to understand. I think the book needs to be considered as a whole by readers who get the medal for finishing it!

Review: I’d give the book a 4 out of 5 Stars. I think many will find it a tad dry and a bit of a slog to get through. But I also think this is due to the nature of the material, and its primary focus on business, and not due to Catmull’s writing. However, it isn’t a book for every Disney/Pixar fan so I have to lower its mark because of this hampered appeal.

Personally though I’d say ‘buy Creativity Inc.’ because if you’ve ever worked for a company that was abusive to employees and made you wonder where common sense went, you’ll be uplifted to see how Pixar became a company that put people first.

Book Review: The Magic of Disney Storybook Collection

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ISBN: 0-7868-3523-0

Type: Hardcover

Size: 9″ x 9″

Pages: 320

Publisher: Disney Press

Date: 2004

This is quite a nice collection of original stories featuring many of our favorite Disney characters along with a few lesser known or forgotten ones. There are thirteen stories in all. Some are:

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I loved reading a story about Sport Goofy! It has been a long time since Goofy has played this character. Other long-lost characters show up in another story:

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Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar

My wife and I got to pose with Horace in the Magic Kingdom in 2008. It’s nice to see classic characters making a comeback. Gladstone Gander and Scrooge McDuck also make appearances in separate stories.

Even little Figaro from Pinocchio makes an appearance as the mischievous pet of Minnie Mouse:

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And this book also pens a tail (wait for it) of Mickey’s first meeting with Pluto:

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It appears that Mickey filled in for a man at a pet store and took Pluto as his payment. It was a fun story!

One of the main things I liked about this book was the diversity of the artwork. Being published in 2004 one would expect the sanitized renderings used for merchandising, but instead we get retro, Golden Books, and comic strip styles of artwork.

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Review: I’d give this book a 4.5 out of 5 Stars. A few of the stories took the easy way out with subject matter and some of the artwork was generic. But overall, for children, this would be an excellent reader. The text is large (20-point Cochin) and the sentence structure would make it easy for even younger ones to read for themselves.

This book is still available from on-line stores and is part of a larger series of storybook collections.

Book Review: Disney’s Adventure Guide to Florida

A FODOR’s Travel Book

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Size: 7″ x 10″

Type: Soft Cover

Pages: 64

ISBN: 0-679-00575-7

Distributed by: David McKay Company, Inc.

Date: 1980

Fodor’s Travel is the world’s largest publisher of English language travel and tourism information and the first relatively professional producer of travel guidebooks. Fodor’s Travel and Fodors.com are divisions of Random House, Inc.

Today, Fodor’s has published more than 440 guides (in 14 series) on over 300 destinations, and has more than 700 permanently placed researchers all over the world.

Back in the 1980’s Disney was more charitable with sharing the tourist dollars that flowed into Florida. They produced ‘adventure guides’ like this one to highlight all of the available attractions in the State rather than just Walt Disney World. You can find such cross-promotion on souvenirs like tin trays, to name just one type of item.

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Similar images are found on tin trays of the period

So let’s have a look at just some of the attractions featured in this book:

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Cape Canaveral

Disney would have a hard time competing with real space vehicles but did eventually try with Mission:Space, a centrifugal motion simulator thrill ride at Epcot that opened in 2003.

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Daytona Beach

The Sky Lift pictured here is apparently no longer in operation. Here is what Joe Wittwer had to say about his ride on it in 2007: “This ride scared me so bad. You don’t go over water, just the concrete pier below. It looks like it hasn’t been maintained in decades.” It is probably safe to assume it is gone!

Disney now tries to compete with the natural beaches of Florida with two major water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. Disney’s ‘Bucket Ride’ is also gone!

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High Wire Parrots and Jungle Cruises

I guess at this point you just have to say that in 1980, Florida had it all!

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Everglades National Park

Alligators are synonymous with Florida and not always in a good way. But back in 1980 tourist were encouraged to walk along precarious wooden ‘bridges’ and seek them out!

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Cypress Gardens and Busch Gardens

Cypress Gardens was a botanical garden and theme park near Winter Haven, Florida that operated from 1936 to 2009. It was in 2011 that the botanical garden portion was preserved inside the newly formed Legoland Florida.

Busch Gardens opened on March 31, 1959, as an admission-free hospitality facility for Tampa Anheuser-Busch; in addition to various beer tastings, they had a bird garden and the Stairway to the Stars, which was an escalator that took guests to the roof of the brewery. And that works for me! It has grown over the years and is still in operation today.

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Walt Disney World

Other than having Disney characters interspersed throughout the book, this is the only page dedicated to a Disney destination. Just to put it a bit above the rest, the copy reads that “There’s nothing quite like it east of California’s Disneyland.” We can forgive Disney because it is a true statement!

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage was an attraction at the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World from 1971 through 1994. So of all the attractions that could have been pictured on this page, they certainly picked an iconic one!

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Price: $3.95 US

Review: This was more of a souvenir guide than an actual guide-book. No addresses are given for any of the attractions so it would serve better as a reminder of places gone than a true guide to places that one would want to see.

So judging it as such I would give it a 4.5 out of 5 Stars.

Book Review: This Was Radio by Ronald Lackmann

Isn’t media wonderful? Here I am writing a post for the Internet that I will share on social media about a hardcover book which describes the early days of radio. If I could find a way to throw television in somewhere I’d have every form of media covered!

But rather than do that I will start by showing the publication in question:

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11 1/2″ x 14″ Hardcover, 70 Pages

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ISBN: 07413-0038-9

I love all-things vintage. And if I can find a Disney tie-in along the way more the better! This publication was published in 2000 by the Great American Audio Corporation. It was written by Ronald Lackmann with an introduction by Leonard Maltin.

The book is divided into 10 chapters which first cover the invention of radio before seguing into the different genres, such as comedy, children’s programming, and talk shows, among others. Chapter 10 provides a brief sum-up of radio’s impact on popular culture.

Here is an excerpt from the introduction:

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If it’s entertainment history, it’s Leonard Maltin

I love the reporting of this man! He has done many introductions for Disney productions and is a well-known champion of entertainment history. He, like myself, feels that the shows of the past should be remembered and studied.

In the early days of radio, two companies were major competitors in setting up networks that crossed the United States. They were:

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Other smaller companies would join the party and the government would later step in with regulations to balance out the content.

And what was in that content?

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Lucille Ball’s first stint as a wife was on radio

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Mr. Inka Dinka Doo got his big push on radio

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And even dummies made it big!

Another Disney tie-in comes from a famous Disney star. From Chapter One: “As performers realized how many people were “tuned in” to radio broadcasts, entertainers like… vaudeville comedian Ed “The Perfect Fool” Wynn decided they might be able to increase the size of their audiences by performing “on radio” for thousands, instead of a mere hundreds of fans. Wynn was heard on one of the first important, well-publicized aired-live comedy shows… Wynn decided to broadcast on a regular basis, becoming one of radio’s first major stars (with the Ed Wynn Show, later called The Fire Chief).”

But it wasn’t all fun and game shows on radio. News broadcasters soon found that radio was a great way to spread fear and panic, er… I mean informative political and social commentary. Some of what was covered was quite chilling:

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From political commentary to the bomb

So if you needed to know it back in the day, you learned of it on radio! Of course, we all know that in time television did come along to overshadow that little talking box in the corner. But it never gave up the fight and is still around today, if only for talk and musical purposes.

But if you’re like me you yearn for the days when The Lone Ranger, gangsters, monsters from outer space, funny comedians, and famous actors all ‘appeared’ over the airwaves!

Review: I’d give this book 4 out of 5 Stars. It is a very comprehensive listing of the programming from the early days of radio with a nice selection of behind-the-scenes photographs. For those not that into radio it will seem a bit like a laundry list of shows with not enough context, but as this book was written for the über fan, that hardly diminishes the books validity.

The book also contains two compact discs with a smattering of old-time radio broadcasts.

Book Review: Funny! (The Pixar Story Room)

Twenty-five Years of Laughter from the Pixar Story Room

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Forward by John Lasseter / Intro by Jason Katz

Right out of the gate I will say this book was a disappointment. ‘Not Very Funny!’ would probably have been a more appropriate title.

The book covers the first sixteen animated movies released by Pixar up to The Good Dinosaur. It contains sketches from the story department that were used to pitch gags to the various directors of the productions. I have no doubt that it must be very funny, and fun, to work in the story department at Pixar, but no real hilarity comes across in this publication.

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Cute, but no belly laugh

Each film is featured in a chapter with brief snippets of wit and wisdom from one of the story persons who worked on it.

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OK, I would buy this in die-cast!

Some of the ideas, pictured in this post, are amusing. But I wouldn’t consider the majority of them to be ‘funny!’ at any stretch.

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It took all of one hour to read through and digest the images in this book making the purchase price of $29.95 US feel a bit high. I’m glad it wasn’t priced at the much higher figures of similar books from Disney Press. Perhaps being manufactured in China by Chronicle Books brought the price down?

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My expression after finishing the book

Final Review: I’m not always gushing with my praise for Disney books and I certainly rarely pan a Disney book so thoroughly! But I can only give this effort a 2 out of 5 Stars.

The potential was high but the reality ranged from boring to disturbing with only a few chuckles in-between.

Book Review: The Art of the Disney Golden Books

Art of Golden Books

Publisher: Disney Editions

Type: Hardcover

Pages: 160

ISBN: 978-1-4231-6380-0

Price: $35.00 US & CAN

This is a great book for anyone who loves the Little Golden Books. I think we all have memories from our childhood of one title or another! The focus of this publication is the artwork, obviously, and it’s about time the artists and their work was featured.

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Artwork

The book is divided into seven sections: History, Art & Artists, Memories, Influences, Creations, Discoveries, and Legacy.

History: This section tells the story of how Disney and Whitman Publishing first started collaborations on Disney-themed books. Eventually Simon & Schuster launched the first Little Golden Book and history was made!

First Disney Golden Book

One of the first Disney Little Golden Books

Art & Artists: Briefly put, the goal was not to replicate the art of the movies but to create an alternate style more suited to the book format. Mary Blair was instrumental in designing the look of the early books.

Memories: Many current Disney/Pixar artists give their recollections of the Little Golden Books and how their young lives were affected by them.

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Influences: More current artists talk about how their work is influenced by the artwork of the vintage work done on earlier Little Golden Books.

Creations: When Random House acquired the rights to the Little Golden Books in 2001 the line needed to be reimagined. This chapter tells that story.

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Discoveries: In 1997 Golden Books was in trouble as a company and Disney sought to obtain all of the vintage artwork stored up and saved by them before it was lost! They succeeded. Whew!

Legacy: A short wrap-up chapter on the legacy built by this iconic brand.

Any Disney art fan can’t go wrong with this book and I’m surprised at the reasonable price. It’s beautifully illustrated and the information is informative without being exhausting. I would give this book a 5 out of 5 Stars as I can’t see how it could have been improved!