Bill Peet has always felt like my family’s best-kept secret. I don’t see a lot of people reading or talking about his books, and that’s a shame. I grew up knowing his name and reading his picture books. When we moved to North Carolina, I was delighted to find that the local library has a robust Bill Peet selection. I don’t think I’m exaggerating the fact that finding that collection made me feel more at home than just about anything else in our first few weeks here.
About the Author
Bill Peet was a children’s book author and illustrator as well as a story writer at Disney. He was involved in many of the short and full-length Disney films during his time there, but was especially instrumental in the design and concept of on The Sword and the Stone and 101 Dalmatians. He was the sole storyman for both (meaning he was in charge of character design and story boards) and even wrote the script for 101 Dalmatians. After leaving Disney, he had a successful and prolific career writing and illustrating children’s books.
About the Books
Bill Peet’s books are long(ish) picture books. The main character is almost always an animal (either realistic or fantastical) who overcomes some difficulty to achieve his goal or become a better friend. One thing I love about the books is that the difficulty is sometimes self-induced (as in Eli and Cowardly Clyde) and other times it is something out of the character’s control (as in The Pinkish, Purplish, Bluish Egg). While there is no way to lump all of the books together as one, courage, tenacity, and kindness are common themes. I wouldn’t mind if my kids picked up a little bit of each.
I’ve already said this on the blog before, but my very favorite Bill Peet book is No Such Things. I find it so delightful and relatively quick to read. My favorites as a child were The Pinkish Purplish Bluish Egg and The Caboose Who Got Loose. Recent favorites I’ve discovered while introducing him to my own children are Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent and Eli. I haven’t found one I haven’t liked yet, though, so I’d just start with whatever you can find in print or at your library.