- “How can that little book hold so much information?”
- ―Donald Duck
- “Put that darn guidebook to a good use!”
The Junior Woodchuck's Guidebook, or the "Woodchuck book" for short, is a fictional book featured in the Donald Duck comic book stories and DuckTales. As the title suggests, it is the guidebook used by the Junior Woodchucks and appears to contain information and advice on every possible subject. Huey, Dewey, and Louie frequently consult a volume of the set to get themselves and their uncles Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck out of dangerous situations (see deus ex machina). It was first mentioned in The Secret of Atlantis by Carl Barks in 1954. Its history was later discussed in Guardians of the Lost Library by Don Rosa in 1993.
According to Don Rosa, the Guidebook was written by the Guardians of the lost Library of Alexandria, compiling the essence of all the knowledge that was unique to the Library. It was later found by Cornelius Coot who gave the book to his son Clinton Coot who, in turn, was inspired to found The Junior Woodchucks as a continuation of the Guardians of the Library. One story that is not by Don Rosa says that the Guidebook is updated by an unknown author.
The Woodchuck book seems almost magical in its breadth of information; it almost never fails to provide the required information and yet is small enough to fit into a Junior Woodchuck's backpack (though many stories reveal that the Guidebook consists of a great number of volumes, the full collection being stored at the Junior Woodchucks' Headquarters. However the Woodchucks have an uncanny knack for always having the right volume with them for the task at hand). In particular, the Guidebook contains information on lost treasure, a complete survival guide, extensive historical and technical information and phrase books for various more or less common languages (like a minimal lizard phrase book), and many more. However, it does not contain information that a Junior Woodchuck is already supposed to know, such as the location of the Cape of Good Hope, nor does it contain information on allegedly non-existent things. (In the DuckTales episode "The Golden Fleecing", the three nephews faced a dragon and when they consulted the Guidebook, the entry on dragons read that since dragons did not exist, there was no reason to include information on them. However, in the story on which that episode was based, the guidebook did have an entry on dragons.) On the other hand, the Guidebook does have information on Martian technology, despite the fact that in the DuckTales universe, Martians had not been discovered when the book was printed. In short, it is a minimal encyclopedia (although the subset of articles is extraordinarily well-chosen), available only to Junior Woodchucks.
Information is readily available by searching the extensive index; a key skill of a Junior Woodchuck is being able to retrieve information quickly from the Woodchuck book in the midst of a dangerous situation, such as a bear attack, an earthquake, falling out of an airplane sans parachute, or being swallowed by a crocodile.
Due to the incredible amount of information the book contains, it is considered highly troubling when a situation occurs and the book does not have the necessary information. In the Don Rosa comic issue "The Old Castle's Other Secret or A Letter from Home", Huey, Dewey and Louie panicked at the necessary information being unavailable.
Just as the Junior Woodchucks are based on the Boy Scouts of America, their Guidebook is inspired by the Boy Scout Handbook. The real Handbook (at least in the 1950s) was the same size as the Guidebook and was believed by all Scouts to contain all necessary information. In this respect, the almost limitless and sometimes esoteric knowledge the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook offers is a gently satirical comment on the "Scout Bible", as the original Scouting For Boys by Baden-Powell was sometimes known, a book giving advice on a vast range of subjects, including "Smoking", "How The Empire Must be Held", "Courtesy To Women", and "How to Revive A Suicide".
That guide was the inspiration for the "Junior Woodchucks Guidebook" (Il Manuale delle Giovani Marmotte), a series of several Disney books with tips, advice, general culture, and curious facts about nature and life, released in Italy by Mondadori in seven volumes between 1969 and 1974, and later translated into several languages.
In the comic book adaptation of the Darkwing Duck pilot, "Darkly Dawns the Duck", it is shown that Darkwing, apparently having been a Junior Woodchuck in his youth, has a copy of the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook. However, in the actual episode, the book is instead referred to as "a boy scout handbook."