Western Animation: Adventures from the Book of Virtues
"Tell me a story/Read me a poem
Wrap it in memory/Sing me the song
Then let me hold it/Deep in my heart
Where it can speak to me all the day long
The adventure of virtue/The adventure of truth
The thrill of the knowing that it's up to you
Build me a new day shining in the sun
This is my story/The adventure has begun…"Adventures from the Book of Virtues
is an American TV series that ran from September 2, 1996 to November 2000 on PBS
. Based on the bestselling morality
book The Book of Virtues
by William J. Bennett
(who also conceived this series), it follows the adventures of 11-year-old Zach Nichols and 10-year-old Annie Redfeather as they run into typical ethical issues facing normal kids...and their Talking Animal
friends at Plato's Peak are there to help them solve their problems with stories from The Book of Virtues.
The inhabitants of Plato's Peak are:
This is the first television series from PorchLight Entertainment, as well as the first prime time animated series for PBS. It is dedicated to teaching Christian life lessons to kids, such as of courage, faith, honesty, loyalty, compassion, gratitude, responsibility, perseverance, self-discipline, and friendship. For a TV series, the animation uses quite an advanced movie quality, giving most of the designs a Disneyesque
The series is currently available on qubo
on weekends, and on the Mormon channel BYUtv on weekdays. Episodes from the show are also seen on YouTube
(US viewers only) (link
Has episodes borrowing plots from Aesops Fables
, The Bible
, The Odyssey
Check out the Characters page
and the Recap page
This series includes examples of:
- Anthropomorphic Zig Zag: Plato often shifts back and forth between all fours and two legs.
- Argument of Contradictions: Annie accusing Zach of causing her bike accident results in a "Yes you did!" "No I didn't!" "You did too!" argument between them until Plato stops them from bickering. Then it's lampshaded when Plato tells Annie that arguing with a friend isn't the right answer to an accident.
- Art Evolution: The animation design in season two has been changed, noticeably streamlining the designs on Zach and Annie to make them look a little like teenagers, in addition to darkening the backgrounds a bit and making the cells lighter. Finally, in season three, the animation quality is a little less smooth than the first two seasons and also added black outlines on the characters, even though the backgrounds are lighter again and the character designs are completely unchanged.
- Art Shift: Depending on the tone of the story segments, stories about historical or Biblical figures will feature realistic animation while fables will have a cartoony look, plus comedic stories will have a wacky style to the drawings and others will have stylistic designs.
- Babysitting Episode: The plot point of the episode "Selflessness", in which Annie was forced to babysit her toddler cousins, skipping a trip of hers.
- Berserk Button: Don't touch and break Zach's dad's camera.
- Never climb on Zach's elderly friend Mr. Cleveland's plaque and break it.
- Also, don't insult a friendly junkyard man named Jake in "Respect".
- Binocular Shot: When a binocular or spyglass is used by the characters in some episodes.
- Blinding Camera Flash: This happens to Zach at the beginning of "Honesty", when he touches his dad's camera and accidentally breaks it.
- Bolt of Divine Retribution: At the beginning the first episode "Work", a raging thunderstorm occurs, so everyone rushes to the cave—except for Sock, who just sits on a branch of a tree. When told by Plato that the tree isn't very safe to sit on during thunders, Sock disagrees, thinking the tree is very safe. Cue a lightning strike hitting the branch he's sitting on, and thus he falls on the ground.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: On occasion; near the end of "Honesty" (2000), Sock appears in front of the screen and talks directly to the audience right after Zach accepts Annie's apology letter.
- Call Back: In "Trustworthiness", Zach's backpack is found by Sock, who digs into it looking for something. This makes Zach toss the backpack away and shoo him, causing it to spill its contents. Zach gives his lunch bag containing a sandwich to Annie and quickly packs them up in frustration but Annie immediately eats his sandwich, which leads him to accuse her of eating it. Then Annie holds out another bag containing a sandwich, making him happy. This is later repeated at the end of "Honesty" (2000) where Zach and Annie are having a picnic, but Sock steals Zach's bag of sandwiches, which makes Zach angry. Then Annie holds out another bag of sandwiches and Zach turns pleased again.
- Character Focus: Almost every episode would focus on either Zach or Annie back and forth. However, the first episode focuses on Sock.
- Chased Off into the Sunset: Aristotle chases after Socrates at the end of the episode "Moderation", after Socrates eats the remaining cookies in the jar.
- Chicken Joke: The "Honesty" episode has Aristotle telling the joke "Why did the bobcat cross the road? To bother somebody else for a change!".
- Christmas Episode: "Tales of Compassion" (2000), a two-part episode.
- Clip Show: The ending of "Wisdom", where Annie and Zach tell recaps of their previous adventures.
- Clutching Hand Trap: This happens to Sock in "Moderation", when he tries to take a cookie out of the jar Zach gave him.
- Conspicuously Light Patch: While early episodes avoid this trope, other episodes seem to use it a lot. Especially noticeable is that the dirt could be colored lighter if animated.
- Contemptible Cover: The various picture book adaptations published when the show premiered, which feature illustrations that are slightly Off Model and a bit rounded, such as on the noticeable covers. Just wow.
- Covers Always Lie: The logo of the series, which depicts a lineup consisting of black silhouettes of the main characters standing against a red background with the show's title underneath them, along with a large yellow jungle font for "ADVENTURES", seems like it would fit well for an animated nature series, but the actual show itself is more about characters telling Christian values, fairy tales and other famous stories. However, the logo could be accurate, given that the show involves a Native American girl, wild animals that talk, and even a jungle-style theme song.
- Death Glare: In "Honesty", Plato does one to Sock in response to Sock's terrible pun.
- Diving Save: Sock does this to Annie in "Responsibility" after Annie falls off her bike and slides down the cliff.
- Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: In "Honesty", Zach's dad tells him not to touch his old fashioned camera. But then when Zach ignores what he said and touches it, he accidentally breaks it.
- Dream Sequence: In the two-part Christmas Special, Annie has several of them in which she's a female Ebeneezer Scrooge (named Annie Scrooge) because, in the first part, she was in a bad mood and finally criticized her classmates (and Zach) while they're setting up the Christmas Carol play.
- Dropped Glasses: Happens to Ari in "Trustworthiness", for most of the episode.
- Epic Fail: Sock is often prone to this trope due to his clumsiness.
- At the beginning of "Generosity", Zach was carrying a load of canned goodies for donation. Sock walks in feeling sleepy and accidentally bumps into him making the cans fall on the ground burying him and roll down, and even one of them rolls down into one of Ari's tunnels. Then the kids went on to gather up the cans in boxes.
- Everybody Laughs Ending: Some of the episodes.
- Every Episode Ending: Plato or Aurora reciting a few of the lines from a famous poem.
- Plus an original song will play after the reciting of the poem.
- Face Palm: Zach's dad in "Honesty", after he sees his camera broken by Zach.
- Zach himself also does it in one episode.
- Failure Is the Only Option: In "Courage", Annie has to race with another girl at the school field. As they run, they jump over a hurdle, even though Annie trips over it and falls flat on her face and the other girl wins making her lose. Annie gets upset because of this, pounding on the track with tears coming out of her eyes.
- Fantasy Helmet Enforcement: The kids always wear helmets every time they ride their bikes.
- Feud Episode: Several. Here are a few examples:
- In "Self-Discipline", Zach has an argument with his mother for not buying a video game and letting him get an allowance.
- In "Respect", Annie and Zach were angry at Jake, the junkyard man who let them find parts of his go-kart.
- In "Generosity", Zach and Annie get into a heated argument over which name to choose for their picnic campaign. They're just being generous, according to Plato.
- In "Patience", Annie loses her patience with a younger classmate during a school contest.
- In "Honesty" (2000), Zach is mad at Annie for not letting him pay her fifteen dollars, so they argue for a while until Annie decides to write a trustworthy letter to him.
- At the beginning of "Integrity" (2000), Zach lies in the class by telling them his dad's Egyptian replica of a school report he's taking, which makes Annie so furious at him.
- Furry Confusion: Besides the main animal characters, some episodes have non-anthropomorphic animals show up when Zach/Annie isn't at Plato's Peak. Some examples include a dog that Zach plays fetch with in "Loyalty", Jake's pet dog in "Respect", and two squirrels that Zach mistakes for Sock and Ari in "Determination".
- Magical Realism: Zach and Annie are ordinary kids living in an ordinary small American town going to an ordinary school, who just so happen to have talking animal friends.
- Meddling Parents: Both Zach's and Annie's parents can be these sometimes.
- The Mentor: Plato, to the kids.
- Mistaken for Quake: Bobcat Socrates mistaking Aristotle's digging for an earthquake twice.
- In "Courage":
Zach: (to Plato) Yeah, well, it sure found you scared!
(the ground beneath him rumbles and he jumps as the earth shoots up spiarling toward him)
Sock: AAAHHHHHH!! EARTHQUAAAAAKE!!
Ari: (Sock finally falls over, he emerges) What's going on?
Zach: (laughing with Plato) Sure, nothing scares you!
- In the second episode about moderation:
Sock: It's a miracle he gets in or out without starting an earthquake. (yelps in startlement as a crack shows up in the ground then Ari airs, dislodging several things with him)
Sock: See what I mean?
Plato: Not at the moment.
(Sock and Annie laugh at the handkerchief that landed on his face)
- Mucking In The Mud: At the beginning of "Self-Discipline", Annie and Zach were walking on mud while they enter Plato's Peak.
- In one scene of "Moderation", Sock is seen stepping in a puddle of mud, much to Ari's annoyance.
- Multi-Part Episode: The Christmas Episode.
- Negative Continuity: The episodes do not seem to take place in linear fashion; no character speaks in memoriam of a previous incident, and there is no intimation that the kids act based on a previously referenced virtue.
- Never My Fault: In "Responsibility", Annie blames Zach for her bike accident, but he keeps telling her that he didn't ask her to race. This leads to an argument between them.
- Later in "Integrity", Annie tries blaming Zach for making her sell their weather vanes really fast, but it was actually the fact that she cut the corners.
- In one scene of "Trustworthiness", Zach doesn't believe Annie for taking his sandwich and eating it.
- Niche Network: The Kids' Movie Channel in "Moderation" (2000).
- Non-Human Sidekick: The Zach and the Beanstalk story on "Courage" (2000) gives Zach a fast-talking white field mouse named Samuel J. Fieldmouse.
- Not the Fall That Kills You: In "Responsibility", Annie falls off her new bike after crashing into a rock because she accidentally races with Zach (while actually delivering her mom's cakes), but is eventually saved by Sock from hitting the ground.
- Obstacle Ski Course: The plot point of "Humility" (2000).
- Off Model: In certain shots of many episodes, you can see that a character's body part, clothes or articles of their skin or fur is filled in with the same color as their main body or clothes by mistake, and even in a few shots, one color disappears. Also, the designs on Zach and Annie are noticeably different in some episodes.
- Oh, Crap: In "Responsibility", the animals get this look when they see Annie racing towards the rock.
- Zach also has one at the beginning of "Compassion", when he sees that his neighbor's house is in flames.
- Then in "Courage", Sock does this by screaming when a spiral (which he thinks is an earthquake) is being dug around him and Ari pops out underneath him.
- The characters may have this reaction during some of Sock's Epic Fails.
- Ari in "Charity", when Sock is about to shove a giant snowball on top of him.
- Once per Episode: Each episode has the animals telling the kids a classic story that accompanies the episode's virtue, whether it is a fairy tale, a folk tale, a tall tale, a fable or a myth.
- Platonic Life Partners: Zach and Annie.
- Playing a Tree: Not an inanimate object, but in the first part of the "Compassion" Christmas episode, during a school play based on A Christmas Carol, Annie apparently got cast as Ebeneezer Scrooge by her teacher because she yells at her classmates for not making up their minds.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Sock and Ari. Especially Sock.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: This line in "Responsibility" after Annie realizes that her own bike and delivery cakes have been wrecked in her accident:
Annie: The cakes are ruined! (to Zach) And it's! All! Your! Fault!
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Word of God confirmed that the plot of "Courage" is based on creator Bruce D. Johnson's hurdle incident when he was a kid.
- Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: Out of the four animal characters, Plato, Sock and Ari are named after three famous Greek philosophers. Also, Aurora is named after the Roman goddess of dawn. Occasionally, Plato lampshades this in "Courage":
Ari: Talking brave and being brave; they're two different things.
Plato: Aristotle, you're as eloquent as your namesake, the great philosopher.
- Right in Front of Me: At the beginning of "Perseverance", the kids let Sock use their binoculars so he can see Plato's Peak using it, but then Plato steps up in front of him and asks Sock what is he looking at. This startles Sock, who jumps into Zach's arms screaming as Annie catches the binoculars.
- Running Gag: Ari popping out of the ground accompanied by a Screen Shake, which often startles a character (usually Sock).
- Say My Name: Done by Zach in "Responsibility" when Annie hits a rock on her bike and goes flying.
- Scenery Porn: Most of the backgrounds for the episodes had the quality of paintings.
- Security Cling: See Right in Front of Me.
- Sent Off To Work For Relatives: In "Selflessness", Annie is sent by her parents to work at her younger cousins' house.
- Separate Scene Storytelling: Happens Once per Episode (see above).
- Sesame Street Cred: The characters in the story segments are voiced by such big names as Malcolm McDowell, Ed Begley, Jr., Tim Curry, Shelley Duvall, Elijah Wood and Mark Hamill.
- Shoo Out the Clowns: This happens twice to Sock: Once in "Perseverance", where he only shows up at the beginning; and again in "Courage" (2000), where he goes away when Ari (who has been toned down during this part) tells Zach the story of Zach and the Beanstalk.note Also, he's completely absent in "Responsibility" (2000).
- Plato often recites Rudyard Kipling and other famous authors.
- At the beginning of "Perseverance", when the kids tell Sock that Plato's Peak looks just like Plato, he reminds them "Next you'll be tellin' me there's a mountain in South Dakota that looks like four presidents!". He's actually referring to Mount Rushmore.
- In "Honesty", during the Frog Prince story, the frog at one point says: "Badgers? We don't need no stinking badgers!"
- When a new kids' movie cable channel arrives in "Moderation" (1998), Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz were mentioned in the letter that the cable company sent to Zach's family. Also, at the beginning of the episode, The Black Stallion was seen as one of the movies playing on the channel.
- Speak In Unison: Sometimes used by the characters.
- Split-Screen Phone Call: Done between Zach and Annie at the beginning of "Moderation" (2000).
- Talking Animal: The animals at Plato's Peak.
- Title Confusion: Some people think the show was called "Tales from the Book of Virtues" or "Stories from the Book of Virtues". Neither of these titles are true.
- Title Montage: The opening contains clips from early episodes of the first season, mostly combining them as Welcome Titles of the kids entering Plato's Peak and meeting the animals for the first time. However, the last few shots in the intro are exclusive.
- Tough Room: Averted most of the time with Ari and especially Sock, when they constantly crack a joke or have an injury, and then the other characters (such as the kids) laugh at the animals' humor.note