Nonfiction briefly; Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life, by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. New York: Abbeyville Press. 576 pp. $49.95.

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This handsome chronicle captures in spirit and detail the life of a Disney animator. Through anecdotes, drawings, diagrams, and short animated sequences, Mickey Mouse develops from a doodle into a complete, animated character with a definite weight and a certain personality - right before your eyes. Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston worked at the Disney Studios from the mid-1930s until 1978, when they retired to work on this book. Their experience, enthusiasm, and general know-how also bring to life the men behind the mouse - their long hours of research (six months on a Disney feature film); their tireless craftsmanship (about a half-million drawings on a feature); and their childlike excitement with each discovery.

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