I recently came across the print version of "Dig! A Journey Under the Earth's Crust" by John and Faith Hubley. I have talked about the always inspiring work of the Hubleys here before, and the way they were able to capture a certain spirit and emotional quality in their animation work that I don't believe has ever been matched. Although they animated for just about every format (from commercials to Sesame Street to features to their own independent short films), "Dig!" was an exception and an example of the Hubleys tackling an educational subject matter for a Saturday morning television special and putting their own magic touch on it.
As far as my research has shown, approximately three of the Hubley films were translated to children's books: Dig! (1973), The Hat (1975), and Zuckerlandl (1968). Well, only the former two would constitute as children's books (both published by wings of the now-defunct Harcourt company). The latter's format would probably be best described as an adult picture book.
It's great to now own all three, dirty old dust jackets and all. Dig! and The Hat got the full hardcover treatment, while Zuckerlandl has flimsy stapled binding.
I would love to have some insight on how these books were constructed. For example, "The Hat" seems to be a pretty distinct transfer of the film to print pages. "Dig!" is fairly similar, except it used a more clever, design-oriented approach, such as sometimes breaking scenes from the films into small boxes with the text underneath, almost like a comic strip, as well as making good use of spreads and page layout.
While animation was the ultimate artform of the Hubleys, I can't help but wonder what even more of their films would have looked like translated to print form. How about the brilliant Urbanissimo or Moonbird? Truthfully, many of these films should probably stay just that. Their ebb and flow combined with all of the filmmaking elements are what makes these films special, For example, in print form you do not get the brilliant use of jazz soundtracks (or, for example, Dizzy Gillespie voicing one of the characters in "The Hat"). It is not easy to replicate this on paper and condensed to a short number of pages. However, I am glad to have these select few on my bookshelf as tangible pieces of my admiration for the Hubleys.