Disney aims for a smash hit this summer with The Lion King , the first original animated screenplay it has ever produced. This book incorporates the film's artwork and screenplay, plus a foreword by James Earl Jones (who plays the Lion King's father) and an afterword discussing the African themes and landscape that inspired the art. From Booklist The resurgence in Disney animation in recent years has been accompanied by a concurrent rise in Disney merchandise, the latest example of which is this tie-in to the studio's new cartoon epic, The Lion King. The handsome coffee-table book follows the movie's story of the lion cub Simba's journey to assume the mantle of kingship by means of hundreds of beautifully reproduced production stills, sketches, animation drawings, and background paintings depicting the appealing characters and African settings. The last quarter of the volume is devoted to an afterword offering a behind-the-scenes, step-by-step account of the project from conception to screen. The studio-sanctioned text glosses over such unpleasantries as the removal of the film's original director, who had envisioned a less traditional, more Afrocentric saga. In any event, it's the bountiful gallery of artwork that's the real selling point of the book. Early in its release as of this writing, The Lion King seems to be on its way to becoming Disney's biggest-grossing release ever, so there's bound to be an eager audience for this lavish tome. Gordon Flagg --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.