Follow TV Tropes


Creator / Bill Peet

Go To
"I am an author-illustrator of children's books - and yet - I must confess I don't do the books for the kids. When I'm working on a book I'm somewhere else - at the circus - or a rustic old farm - or deep in a forest - with no thought of who might read the book or what age group it would appeal to. I write them so I can illustrate them."

William Bartlett "Bill" Peet (January 29, 1915 - May 11, 2002), was an American story artist, children's book author and illustrator. He discovered a love of drawing and painting at an early age. Although this passion got him in trouble during his school days, it resulted in a long career in animation and literature that shaped the childhoods of countless people.

Peet graduated from the Herron School of Art and Design (where he met his wife Margaret) in Indiana, and initially tried to build a career as a painter. However, after a few early successes and a lot of struggle, he abandoned this dream to search for something steadier. This drove him to Walt Disney and the early Disney company. He began as a lowly in-betweener, filling in the details on Donald Duck in an annex building, a job that he grew to despise so much that he threw a fit and stomped back home.

Fortuitously, this tantrum occurred just as he made an impression with character designs he'd submitted for Pinocchio. Instead of being fired, he was transferred to become a storyboard artist. From there, he rose through the ranks until he became a story artist — a position responsible for setting the pace and tone of scenes before animation — and worked alongside Walt Disney himself.

He worked on a number of feature films while at Disney, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Fantasia, Alice in Wonderland, 101 Dalmatians, The Sword in the Stone, and an early treatment of The Jungle Book (1967). He also directed some short films, including two based off his own ideas.

During this time, Peet began his most well-known work: his series of children's books. Some of the shorts he developed at Disney, like Goliath II and Lambert the Sheepish Lion, were based on ideas he was developing for books. Walt was impressed when Peet pitched these ideas, and told him to go ahead and animate them.

Eventually growing tired of Walt's controlling nature, dramatic mood swings, and temper tantrums, Peet left Disney in 1964 and devoted himself to working as a full-time storybook author and illustrator.

His books often drew inspiration from the farms and circuses he visited in childhood. While whimsical, they contained moral lessons about topics such as self confidence, teamwork, and conflict resolution. Peet was also adamant that children learn how to teach themselves, so his text included difficult words and contextual clues so his readers could piece together the words' meanings without needing to ask for help. As a result, they tended to be more wordy and dense than other contemporary children's picture books.

Books written by Bill Peet in order of publication

  1. Huberts Hair Raising Adventure
  2. Huge Harold
  3. Smokey
  4. The Pinkish, Purplish, Bluish Egg
  5. Ella
  6. Randy's Dandy Lions
  7. Chester The Worldly Pig
  8. Kermit The Hermit
  9. Cappyboppy
  10. Farewell to Shady Glade
  11. Jennifer And Josephine
  12. Buford the Little Bighorn
  13. Fly, Homer, Fly
  14. The Wump World
  15. The Whingdingdilly
  16. How Droofus The Dragon Lost His Head
  17. The Caboose Who Got Loose
  18. The Ant and the Elephant
  19. Countdown to Christmas
  20. The Spooky Tail of Prewitt Peacock
  21. Merle the High-Flying Squirrel
  22. Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent
  23. The Gnats of Knotty Pine
  24. Big Bad Bruce
  25. Eli
  26. Cowardly Clyde
  27. Encore for Eleanor
  28. The Luckiest One of All
  29. No Such Things
  30. Pamela Camel
  31. The Kweeks of Kookatumdee
  32. Zella Zack And Zodiac
  33. Jethro and Joel Were a Troll
  34. Cock-a-Doodle Dudley

Bill Peet's works provide examples of:

  • Write What You Know:
    • Cappyboppy tells the story of Peet's experiences raising a capybara that his son got as a pet.
    • In his autobiography, Peet would state that Chester the Worldly Pig reflects his own life more than any of his other storybooks. Both Peet and Chester started out living on a farm, then got into show business, only to up and quit when the demands of the job and the overbearing nature of their bosses prove too much, and find greater fame in other fields (Peet as an author/illustrator, Chester as a sideshow attraction on account of his continentally-shaped markings).