Merch Review – Zootopia Magical Story, by Disney Books

Hey there! It’s time for a Surrika review of another book.  This time it’s Disney’s Zootopia Magical Story. Now this book isn’t necessarily bad because it is aimed for toddlers, but there is something about it that irks me greatly.

I have a lot to say about this one, so buckle up and get ready for a full, in-depth review of a children’s book.  Read on after the break!

The back of the book

First, the positives: as with all of the Magical Story books, they have a very nice holographic 3D picture on the front.  That’s about as magical as it gets, but it’s a nice thing they do for this particular series that sets it apart from others.  Another nice thing about this book is the lovely artwork that covers every page from start to finish.  Since this book is aimed at younger readers, there is obviously not a lot of actual reading to be done.  Perhaps there’s too little, but I’ll get to that later.

Now, for those wondering what the Magical Story line of books are, they are the retelling of Disney films for preschoolers and above. It would be easy to point out why this particular retelling is not very good, but I will let you figure it out for yourselves.
The book starts with Judy Hopps arriving in Zootopia.  Immediately something is missing.  The entire opening sequence of the movie is cut.   The book just tells you”Judy Hopps had dreamed of becoming a police officer since she was a little bunny.” Which in my opinion is a bit weird.
The next page is Judy getting assigned to parking duty by Bogo.  Unlike the movie, she does not confront Bogo about this- the book says she is shocked, but that’s it.  I am wondering if you’ve figured out what’s wrong with this book yet.The next scene is in Jumbeaux’s ice cream parlour where it says the elephant was refusing to serve Nick and Finnick because he was afraid that he would make a mess in Jumbeaux’s shop.  What’s interesting about this particular statement is that it is one of Jumbeaux’s accusations in the original deleted scene, where Jerry Jumbeaux Jr. actually had some justification to his refusal, rather than “I hate foxes because reasons”.

Remember when I said it’s like the writers didn’t get the memo about the changes to the film in my first review? Well this looks like another case of this.

The next page is the exchange of names.  But that’s it- the exchange of names.  No city motto, no telling Finnick he can be an elephant if he wants, just “Oh thank you, I’m Nick” “I’m Judy.” It may not be worded like that but it’s so brief it might as well be!The next scene briefly addresses the scam and Judy calls him a liar. This bit would be the most accurate part to the film if not for this line.  You know when Judy lectures him about being a “jerk who never had the guts to try and be anything more than a Pawpsicle hustler?”  Well, that has been replaced with “Underestimating me, you’ll find, is a big mistake.” and then the scene carries out as normal.

The next two pages play out pretty similarly to the movie.  The Little Rodentia chase scene happened, then the scene with Bogo attempting to fire Judy (but in this book, that doesn’t happen), Judy tells Mrs.Otterton that she will find her husband “Before Chief Bogo could turn Judy down.” Not fire, just turn her down.  But he still threatens to give her 2 days to solve the case or she has to quit. Seems a bit extreme after just trying to turn her down, don’t you think?
She finds Nick via the pawpsicle Mr. Otterton is holding in the case file and tracks Nick down and they downplay the entire Judy hustling scene, arguably the best scene in the film by saying simply that “Using a hidden microphone in her carrot-shaped pen, she recorded Nick admitting that he didn’t pay tax. She promised to keep it secret if Nick agreed to help her.” That’s the entire scene in this book. That’s it, no Finnick, no banter back and forth. Just that.
Nick takes her to a Health Spa (Not a naturalist club, a health spa) to see Yax who instantly gives them the licence plate. No Nangi, just straight to the chase. Nick obviously then takes her to see Flash who the book says takes all day to find the limo that the license plate belonged too.
Now, see if you notice what’s wrong with this picture.
Oh animals, that isn’t how you queue…you’re meant to be behind the rope.

After that, we get “When Judy and Nick tracked down the limo, they found Emmitt’s wallet lying on the floor and car seats covered in claw marks.  The driver of the limo, a jaguar called Manchas told them that Emmitt had gone crazy.”

Did you notice the BIG thing they just completely ignored?  That’s right, Mr. Big is completely removed from this version of the story. This includes Fru-Fru, who was not rescued from a giant donut- nor was the donut mentioned at all in the Little Rodentia chase sequence.
From this point on, the book plays out almost entirely like the movie, but with a few changes here and there which I will point out rather than review every single page.  This following excerpt in particular isn’t necessarily a change, but is such an understatement that it’s unbelievable and adds to the reason I dislike this book.
“But during the press conference, Judy let it slip that only predator animals were turning savage. As a predator himself, Nick was upset as he knew this was going to cause trouble between predators and prey in Zootropolis. He left feeling angry.”
This book has the ability to completely undermine the best scenes in the film.  Do I even need to point out why this version of the story is completely wrong?  She stated a fact but worded it very very poorly, in fact Nick only starts getting upset when she says “It’s because of DNA” as if they couldn’t control themselves.
Nick was not upset about the prey and predator conflict- in fact, he didn’t even reference that- it was because he realized that Judy had the same bias as the bullies that ostracized him for being a fox, and she just did the same thing.  But the bit that gets me is “He left feeling angry.” I’m not sure why, but that makes me laugh. I guess cause of how small of a deal they make it sound.
Yes, he certainly looks angry.

Another change is the apology scene. You know that heart-wrenching scene of Judy apologizing and calling herself a dumb bunny?  It’s literally boiled down to:

“She found Nick and apologized.  ‘I’ve been fighting my whole life to break out of my box and to be all I can be, Then what do I do? I put my friend and partner in a box.’ “
Okay, so she did this whole cop thing literally just to be girl that said “I told you so?” That is what this book makes it sound like. It makes Judy’s character seem immature, rather than determined to “Make the world a better place!” But it says Nick records that apology on the carrot pen. Wait, what apology there is not a single instance of sorry on this page. I can even get you a picture!
Nice nonexistent apology.

Now the grand finale. They boil this down into a bore as well, completely ignoring the Doug train action sequence.  Nick just grabs the case from the train, and they leave for the ZPD (with no mention of the museum). The ram blocks the path.  There’s no big speech, no reveal, just:

“In that moment, Judy and Nick realised that this was all part of Bellwether’s Plan!
She wanted to make the animals in the city scared of each other, so she could have power over everyone.”
They get pushed into a pit, Nick gets darted, and Bellwether phones the police to report the savage animal.  It plays out exactly like in movie- Nick reveals it was an act, Judy tells them they used blueberries, and Nick holds up the pen with the recorded confession…wait.  Confession?  The book makes no mention of bellwether saying anything at all.  Good job with that.
And there you have it.  The entire story, as told by this book.  I’m sure you can see what my issue is with it.I am a firm believer in the idea of “Kids are only as stupid as you treat them.” This books treats them pretty stupidly. There is little to no conflict in this version of the story.  It’s all dumbed down to one or two lines of boredom.

Kids can handle conflict and tragedy. I mean, I grew up with golden age Disney films and Don Bluth movies and I agree with his statement that “You can have a story be dark as you like just so long as you include a happy ending.” This book downplays a lot of that.  Mr. Big being completely removed basically removes the death threat from this movie.  They don’t even have Bellwether say that she’s going to have Nick kill her. She just darts him without saying a word.
Another two conflicts they avoided is the Gideon Grey bully scene and Nicks Junior Ranger Scout flashback story. Again, downplaying violence because kids won’t be able to handle it.  This version of the story leaves a lot out, and to be honest, I wouldn’t even get this for my kid (if I had one). I would instead get my kid the junior deluxe novel instead which I will be reviewing in the future.If you want to buy this book for whatever reason, (maybe just to add to your collection?), You can find it in Disney stores and some Toy retailers. There aren’t any Amazon links I can provide as they don’t sell it.

And so, this concludes my review of the Zootopia Magical Story.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I didn’t.This is your friendly neighborhood Meerkat, Surrika, signing out!


  1. I help with excellent essays writing and sometimes I write articles too. The other day I wrote about disney movies and I had to watch quite a lot of them… gotta say that I had so much fun and Zootopia is my fave. Shakira's song is stuck in my head ever since I watched it.

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