Who Was Walt Disney?


Book Title: Who Was Walt Disney?

Genre: Nonfiction, Biography

Author: Whitney Stewart

Illustrator: Nancy Harrison

Number of Pages: 101

Copyright date: 2009

DRA/Lexile: 40/720L


Who Was Walt Disney? tells the story of Walt Disney beginning with his birth and ending with his death.  It chronicles his time spent in Missouri growing up as the class clown and his work on the farm, for the newspaper, and as an ambulance/car driver for the Americans during the end of WWI.  Walt then came home and continued to pursue art and cartoons.  He teamed up with fellow cartoonist Ub Iwerks.  They developed the character Oswald the rabbit, but that was soon taken from them so they were forced to come up with a new character on their own in their new studio.  This character was Mickey Mouse.  Walt didn’t have the best relationship with his employees, but his studio was very successful.  The book continues to chronicle his life through the creation of Disneyland and ultimately his death of lung cancer.


The book isn’t very well-written and for all his amazing legacies, Walt Disney didn’t have the most interesting life, which makes reading his biography not the most engaging of activities.  The illustrations definitely help, as does the story style of writing.  It doesn’t read like dry nonfiction exactly, which helps, but not a very interesting story in the end.

Thoughts to Ponder:

Walt Disney has so many amazing aspects of his legacy that could be highlighted in a biography or in the classroom.  It would be interesting to do a small unit or focus on animation and cartoons and their place in history.

Project ideas: a Who Was. . . famous individuals unit that culminates in a costumed presentation/live art show where students present important information on an individual of their choice

Pros and Cons:

This story is not the most interesting, but it does share details about Walt Disney’s life that give him a more well-rounded persona.  The author writes the biography as if it was a story so it does read smoothly and in a more appealing manner than typical nonfiction.

Book Talk:

Did you know that Walt Disney worked for a newspaper when he was younger?  Did you know that his first animated character was not Mickey Mouse?

Find out interesting aspects of Walt Disney’s life from childhood through Disneyland in adulthood in Who Was Walt Disney? by Whitney Stewart.


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