The Fabulous Firework Family (1959)

Over at Bob Shea and Lane Smith’s wonderful Curious Pages blog, they’ve posted the classic Jim Flora children’s book, The Fabulous Firework Family (1955). Flora is best known for his distinctive designs for RCA and Columbia Record jackets, magazines and various commercial art projects of the 40s and 50s. The Fabulous Firework Family launched Flora’s second career as a children’s book author and illustrator.

The book was acquired by Terrytoons during the Gene Deitch era (1956-1958) and the resulting film turned out to be the last cartoon Deitch personally produced at the studio. Al Kouzel directed and, though Flora was involved with adapting the story to the screen, the final result wasn’t entirely successful in translating the charm of the original book.

It’s illuminating to compare the book to the cartoon. Below is a pan-and-scan TV version of the Terrytoon, sans credits. (The original CinemaScope version of the film, with full credits, will be screened March 2nd at my Wide Screen Cartoons program at the CineFamily/Silent Movie Theatre).


  • http://www.wardjenkins.com Ward

    It should be noted that this book, along with a few of his other early children’s books have been out of print for a while. Good news, however – Enchanted Lion Books have announced that they’re going to reprint them, starting with The Day The Cow Sneezed from 1957. If there’s enough interest, Enchanted will do more. Expect Cow Sneezed this Fall of 2010!

  • Daev

    What did she say? Six *what* last year??

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Still, not a bad adaptation of a book I hadn’t seen before.

    I think that word is “Fizzle”.

  • Alfons Moline

    Thanks a zillion for posting this! I have dim memories of watching this on TV about 40 years ago and I was longing to see it again! For many years I wondered if this was a Mexican cartoon -because it was set in Mexico- but later I learned it was actually one of the Terrytoons made under Gene Deitch´s regime -probably his most ‘personal’ work made there, after Ernest Pintoff´s FLEBUS and the also Kouzel-directed THE JUGGLER OF OUR LADY.

  • http://soccerorassociationfootball.blogspot.com Bob

    This certainly was no Gandy Goose cartoon, that’s for sure.

  • http://www.super-macho.com Jorge R. Gutierrez

    I love this book! I wanted to see this short for years, maybe I shouldn’t have…