Pencils, Pens & Brushes: A Great Girls’ Guide to Disney Animation

“Pencils, Pens & Brushes: A Great Girls’ Guide to Disney Animation”

Based on Mindy Johnson’s Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation, this bold, bright-colored nonfiction picture book tells the stories of Disney’s women animators who lent their talents to achieve a lot of “firsts.” Twenty women, known as “Great Girls,” and their inspiring stories are showcased in this book, beginning with the two Mrs. Disneys – Lillian and Edna who married the Disney brothers and helped them achieve success.

Each woman is introduced with a black and white photo of herself, accompanied by an illustration of her performing her job in the animation process at Disney. After each woman’s story, a rhyming couplet sums up her contribution to the world of animation and what “Great Girls” can do.

These trailblazing women also achieved “firsts” outside of the animation world like Grace Huntington who set the national altitude record for a female pilot in a lightplane back in 1939.

One of my favorite inspirations comes from Mary Costa’s story, who was the voice of Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty. She said that Walt Disney encouraged her to pursue her dream of being a great opera singer. “If you have the four “D’s” – Dedication, Determination, and Discipline – you’ll achieve your Dreams!” he had told her.

This book promotes creative components of a creative person, persistence, and risk-taking.

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK:  I like this book because of its inspirational message to encourage others to pursue their dreams and persist in overcoming obstacles. While this book is about empowering girls, it is also about the dedication of these women and their contributions to the world of animation as well as other outstanding accomplishments.

TITLE: Pencils, Pens & Brushes: A Great Girls’ Guide to Disney Animation

AUTHOR: Mindy Johnson


PUBLISHER: Disney Enterprises, 2019


TOPIC(S): women animators who lent their talent to Disney animators, inspiration, history of female animators

CREATIVE COMPONENTS: creative person, perservance, risk-taking


1) Try something new today like a food you’ve never tasted or a game where you don’t know the rules.

2) What colors represent you? Think of different shades. Blend a couple colors together to create a new color. What’s the name of your invented color? How does that name reflect your personality? 

3) What’s your favorite animated movie? Pretend you are one of the characters in the movie and rewrite a scene with you in it.


To learn more about author Mindy Johnson, visit:

To learn more about illustrator Lorelay Bové, visit:

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