1970’s Junior Woodchucks Guidebook

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A book that has been in my personal library since I was a kid is the Junior Woodchucks Guidebook. No, not the fictional one, a real one (although I am not certain about the actual name, since I lost its cover).

Wikipedia describes the Junior Woodchucks Guidebook as follows: “In Disney’s fictional universe, The Junior Woodchucks are the Boy Scouts of America-like youth organization to which Donald Duck’s nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, belong. […] Junior Woodchucks always carry with them a copy of the Junior Woodchucks Guidebook, a fictional guidebook filled with detailed and pertinent information about whatever country or situation the Woodchucks find themselves. Its depth of coverage is remarkable, considering that it is a small paperback book.”

In the pre-internet age such bottomless founts of knowledge were a popular fantasy. The most famous among them being the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which appears in the novel of the same name by Douglas Adams, and the Memex device by Vannevar Bush, which is widely credited as being the precursor of the World Wide Web. (An early version of the web was called Enquire, after the book about everything, Enquire Within Upon Everything, which I helped proofread for Project Gutenberg).

In the 1970s somebody published an actual version of the Junior Woodchucks Guidebook in Dutch, in slightly larger than pocket format, and I bought a second hand copy of it. I have long since lost the cover, the front matter and the first fourteen pages, so I am no longer even sure about its title. Presumably it ran along the lines of Walt Disney’s Jonge Woudlopershandboek. In the same series the now defunct publisher Amsterdam Book published “Walt Disney’s Groot Goochelbook” (Walt Disney’s Book of Magic), which contained magic, scientific and occult tricks. It was published in 1973, translated from a 1972 Italian version, and resembled the Junior Woodchucks Guidebook in size, paper type and so on, so I am guessing both are from the same publisher and the same time.

What I always found remarkable about this real life version was its depth of coverage. The guidebook went into all kinds of subjects that are useful for trekking: how to make a camp fire (it even goes as far as differentiating fires depending on what you want to cook), how to tell time by looking at flowers, how to estimate distances; then into guidelines useful for the city dweller: how to dry a book (if the pages are stuck together, put it in the oven!), how long to sunbathe (a table shows the time for each body part!), how to take care of your record collection; and also into more esoteric lessons on what names mean, how to decipher blazons, the meanings of onomatopoeic words, and so on.

As a kid, I thought the guide on how to remove stains from clothing was worth the price of the book alone.

(Images from top to bottom: how to make campfires, how to make book-ends from a card board box, how to use flowers to tell the time.)

21 Comments »

  1. Hey, thats great detailing. I was very interested about this book in the childhood. Is the book still being published in english? May be by other names or so?

    Comment by Aven — September 1, 2008 @ 11:40 am

  2. I honestly don’t know. I did some googling before I posted this article, but couldn’t find anything.

    Comment by Branko Collin — September 1, 2008 @ 12:09 pm

  3. The title of the book (in Dutch) is “Walt Disney’s Handboek voor jongens” (Boy’s Manual), published in 1972 by Amsterdam Boek BV. The pictures are inmistakable and it was a fun book to read and reread as a young boy.

    Comment by Egbert — March 3, 2009 @ 3:58 pm

  4. Hey, thanks!

    Comment by Branko Collin — March 3, 2009 @ 7:11 pm

  5. The “Junior Woodchucks’ Guide” was published in english by Danbury Press in 1976. I have a copy but can’t find another anywhere. It is hardback and is a bit like the old Cub Scouts guide used during the 60’s with lots of activities. Here is a scan of the cover. http://i251.photobucket.com/albums/gg289/ersatz_photos/JWGfront1.jpg

    Comment by Paul Hofrichter — July 26, 2009 @ 3:16 am

  6. Thanks Paul, that’s a useful addition. A page at Allexperts.com refers to an edition from 1973 by Danburry Press, and also mentions Spanish translation.

    The Disney magic book I mentioned in the posting was edited by Mario Gentilini, and the Dutch translation was printed in Italy also, by Arnoldo Modadori of Verona. The Wikipedia page on Gentilini says he was named a Disney Legend after he died, and that he was responsible for the publication of Topolino (Mickey Mouse) magazine from 1949 to 1980.

    Comment by Branko Collin — July 26, 2009 @ 3:00 pm

  7. This series was also published in Greek under the title “ta vivlia ton mikron exerevniton” or “books for little explorers”, sometime in the early 80’s. I had a set (about 15-20 books) when i was a little boy. Have vague recollections of these. Lost them when my parents moved to Australia. Would love another set in English or Greek for my children….

    Comment by Dennis — June 26, 2010 @ 2:46 pm

  8. […] The Junior Woodchucks Guidebook. That, and Paul Watzlawick’s Pragmatics of Human […]

    Pingback by 11 Questions – Bottin and Stevie Kotey « We Love… Life — August 12, 2010 @ 5:44 pm

  9. in the 70’s i went in a book store and found 25 hardback american. copies–in the 80’s iwas given a tour at disney archives in cal. i ask the curator david smith abt the book and was told disney never did a jr woodchucks guidebook ihave never seen another until this past week and it was the dutch copy on ebay for $1500.00. i wrote the seller for any info he could provide but he was not kind enuf to respond. i have seriously looked for more copies for 40+ yrs. an no luck. i may one day put them on ebay glenn

    Comment by glenn bell — November 14, 2013 @ 6:51 pm

  10. Had this amazing book and my mum sold it at a car boot sale in the UK for 20p.(Q gasps) I am constantly looking for one for my kids so if anyone wants to sell I would be very interested!Please get in touch!

    Comment by Hj — July 10, 2017 @ 12:16 am

  11. Darling fantastic article but where can I buy this book??? Seriously I think my boys would need the Junior Woodchucks right now!!!

    Comment by MArina — January 9, 2018 @ 9:01 am

  12. There’s currently a Greek version up on Ebay for 200 dollars. That’s the sort of price you can expect to pay and the sort of place where you can expect to find it.

    Comment by Branko Collin — January 9, 2018 @ 10:03 am

  13. Please, inform the “Greek version´s” email-address, or another contact!

    We are here in Finland interested in Bicycle Buses, especially in transporting the elderly people and by this way fulfilling our duties towards those who are not able to move by themselves!

    Best wishes,
    Jukka Peltoniemi
    (a 80 years of age pensioneer)

    Comment by Jukka Peltoniemi — January 26, 2018 @ 6:33 pm

  14. Really, just look on Ebay.com or any other online marketplace if you want to buy a second hand version of the book.

    Comment by Branko Collin — January 26, 2018 @ 11:31 pm

  15. I have searched and searched and can’t find this book anywhere online in English! It was published in the U.S. in the 70s.

    Comment by EH — March 29, 2018 @ 4:18 am

  16. Thanks for the info! As a lover of Scrooge McDuck comics, I would love to see what the real Junior Woodchuck Guidebook published in the 70s in English obtained. Hopefully someone can scan it one day and upload it to the internet!

    Comment by Baloo — August 18, 2018 @ 1:53 am

  17. Hi! These books were insanely popular in Brazil during our military dictatorship and are very easy to find in any antique bookstores. I love them, they are super charming and fun.
    I saw you guys very interested in the books and I was moved by your dedication. I will soon translate my own collection to english and digitize it online (:

    Comment by Beatriz — September 18, 2019 @ 10:43 pm

  18. Is this book still being published in English. If so, where can I find it? How would you rate this book? Is it good? I’m really interested.

    Comment by ? — April 30, 2021 @ 8:34 pm

  19. Man, this book really is now a stuff of legends. In Poland it was released in volumes, but now I’m looking for an english version. I guess I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled!

    Comment by Chris — May 21, 2021 @ 4:34 pm

  20. I was wondering if you could a good scan the book and send the pdf to me. I was hoping to recreate the book and put it up for people to get. I still haven’t worked it out yet but I think this book would be great for people to have. I think the only trouble would be translating it. but please do message me if could

    Comment by LopX — September 5, 2021 @ 7:09 pm

  21. The book is still copyrighted, so I am not going to.

    Comment by Branko Collin — September 18, 2021 @ 11:59 am

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