Saturday, December 13, 2008

How Pablo, The Penguin Who Hated the Cold, Warmed a Heart

Walt Disney Studios, illustrator, Simon & Schuster, 1946

Meet Pablo the Penguin. An Antarctic penguin, living in an Eskimo-style igloo from the other end of the world, whose major motivation was to find warmth. This little book is the result of a little film made by Walt Disney in the 40s.

The telling of Pablo's story took place in The Three Caballeros, released Feb. 3, 1945. Like most Disney features of the 1940s, this wasn't a true feature, but consisted of several unrelated segments, of which Pablo starred in one.

Unlike other such features, however, this one had a tenuous plot thread tying it together, in which the caballeros of the title (Donald Duck, José Carioca and Panchito Pistoles) had an adventure together and unrelated tales, without which the story wouldn't have been nearly long enough to stand as a feature, got told as they did so. One of them introduced Donald to a recurring pestiferous antagonist, The Aracuan bird. Another was about an Argentine boy and his winged burro. Pablo's, inserted as a movie Donald watched, was titled The Cold-Blooded Penguin.

Rather than being acted out the regular way, this segment used only voice-over narration to accompany the animation. Thus, Pablo didn't speak, so nobody did his voice. The narrator was character actor none other than, Sterling Holloway.

The character of Chilly Willy, more or less a clone of Pablo, was later created by Walter Lantz of Woody Woodpecker fame.

Info taken and somewhat modified from Toonopedia.
Read the full article here.

The Little Golden Book version of this story was written by Robert Edmunds. It had alternating black and white and color pictures and much more text than the version I grew up knowing. I had a copy of The Penguin That Hated the Cold which was a board book produced in the 1970s as part of the Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Reading series.

All of this matters, at least a little, because about a week ago in our staff lounge Deb, our art teacher, was part of a discussion on beloved children's books and she mentioned a story about a penguin who wanted to be warm. She thought his name was Pablo. And instantly I knew. She told a story about how her sisters fought over the book and her middle sister won. Yes, even at 60, these books matter!

On the way back to class, another colleague suggested we try to find the book and so this celebration of Pablo began. I immediately ordered a copy of the book I had as a child but then we figured out that she probably had the Little Golden Book since that was the series we were discussing when she had her Pablo moment. So, to be safe, we ordered both. The look on her face when we presented her with her choice of books yesterday was priceless.

The Penguin That Hated the Cold,
adapted by Barbara Brenner,
Random House, 1973

This video cuts off the intro, but the other one can't be embedded. If you'd like to see the bits with Donald Duck at the very beginning click here.


Vince said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The North York Nut said...

The Three Caballeros had a plot, unlike the rest of the anthologies.

Watch the movie and see the plot.
Donald's bday

Zoe Edmunds said...

Robert Edmunds was my paternal grandfather so I am really touched to read that he is still being talked about all of these years later! I was trying to find this cartoon on the web to show to my children and came across your blog.

Anonymous said...

I just had to look up this book. This was my favorite book and I remember my mother reading it to me when I was young. It had to be the 1946 book as I was born in 1943. Thanks for the movie clip, I enjoyed it.

Brady Connell said...

Came across this as I was looking for links between The Cold-Blooded Penguin and Chilly Willy. My dad, Del Connell, created The Cold-Blooded Penguin during WWII and sold the story to Walt Disney for $500. Walt made it into a short, which premiered in "The Three Caballeros," and also had it published as a book. Nice to see people have such fond memories of the story!

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