Category Archives: Taking risks

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:

Chilly Da Vinci

“Chilly Da Vinci”

Chilly did not do penguin things. He built things that did not work.

When Chilly’s invention accidentally breaks a chunk of ice off from the Vinci colony, 

he needs to prove to himself and the other stranded penguins that he has what it takes to be a good penguin.

This story promotes creative components of imagination, taking risks, and humor.

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: I like this book because I am a big fan of Leonardo da Vinci’s and as such, I really enjoyed seeing J. Rutland’s perspective and how he introduces Da Vinci to young readers through a humorous story about a penguin taking risks despite failure.  

TITLE: Chilly Da Vinci

AUTHOR: J. Rutland


PUBLISHER: NorthSouth Books, 2019


TOPIC(S): penguins, inventing, a nod to Leonardo da Vinci

CREATIVE COMPONENTS: imagination, taking risks, humor


1) Research a scooter or skateboard. How might you change its design to improve its function? Additionally, what other functions can a skateboard or scooter perform or what else can it be?

2) Play with ice cubes and popsicle sticks or toothpicks. What can you make?

3) Look at one of Leonardo da Vinci’s invention designs. How might that invention be used today?


To learn more about author/illustrator J. Rutland visit:

My Heart Is A Compass

“My Heart Is A Compass”

Rose wants to be an explorer, a pioneer, a trailblazer. She is set on discovering something that no one else has ever found but she does not know what to find or where to look. 

Rose draws her own map with her imagination as the blueprint and her heart as the compass.

 She sets off on her journey, charting new worlds, even the cosmos. Yet she returns empty handed. What will Rose share for show and tell?

This story promotes creative components of taking risks, creativity, and imagination. 

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: I like this book because of Rose’s trailblazing spirit and the intricate maps she draws, which inspire my imagination and wonders.

TITLE:My Heart Is A Compass

AUTHOR: Deborah Marcero

ILLUSTRATOR: Deborah Marcero

PUBLISHER: Little, Brown and Company, 2018


TOPIC(S): adventure, imagination, discovering new worlds

CREATIVE COMPONENTS: taking risks, imagination, creativity


1) Draw a map of your imagination. What are your wonders? What mythical places or things would you like to explore? 

2) Hide a treasure somewhere in your backyard or inside your house. Draw a map of your backyard or house. Write out directions for someone to find your treasure, using the four cardinal directions of north, east, south, and west. 


To learn more about author/illustrator Deborah Marcero, visit: