Canadian book at heart of ‘Up!’ lawsuit finally published

Pop Goes The News — A Montreal duo has published a children’s book about “a chubby little man” who embarks on an adventure when his house is lifted off the ground by a bunch of balloons.

Mr. Zuko Takes Flight sounds a lot like the 2009 animated movie Up! — but it actually came first.

Michel Faure, a well-known Canadian screenwriter, made up the story in the summer of 1983 for his daughters Elisabeth and Isabelle.

While teaching at Concordia University, he sought out an artist to put his tale into drawings. Joyce Borenstein, a film animation teacher at Concordia, accepted the challenge.

The pair pitched Mr. Zuko Takes Flight to publishers in the U.S. and Canada without success and shelved their work.

In 2009, they were surprised to see remarkably similar images of a house being lifted by balloons on posters for the animated movie Up! and took legal action.

Disney/Pixar reached an out-of-court settlement with Faure and Borenstein. The latter started work in 2014 to finish the illustrations and the book was finally published last November via Blurb.


Above: An image from the 2009 Disney/Pixar movie Up!

Faure, 81, is married to Joan Fraser, a longtime Montreal Gazette reporter and editor who was appointed to the Senate in 1998.

Borenstein, 65, is an accomplished animator who wrote and directed the 1992 National Film Board short The Colours of My Father, which earned an Oscar nomination.

Faure dedicated the colourful 54-page book, which is currently available from Amazon, to his daughters with the words “Remembering the magic moments.”


Above: Two pages of the book Mr. Zuko Takes Flight.

There’s a French version of the book and Ariela Cotler, the wife of former Canadian Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler, is translating the book into Hebrew.

It took more than three decades to get Mr. Zuko published but Faure and Borenstein have plans to make a short animated film and a follow-up book.