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Bill Peet The Man Who Started With Disney

Updated on March 16, 2015
A man who brought joy to millions of children, including mine!
A man who brought joy to millions of children, including mine!

And Ended Up In Our Hearts

Our favorite children's book author, is a man called Bill Peet. Most of you are familiar with Dr. Seuss, whose rhyming and wit have captured the hearts of several generations. How many of you are familiar with Peet's writings, though?

If you have never heard his name before, you need to keep reading. He authored 36 of the most captivating children's books of all time.

His creativity and enthusiasm for creating unique characters for children's books and films knew no bounds, and he is sorely missed by his family - and, by us!

Thankfully, he left behind quite a legacy, and in my opinion, wrote and illustrated some of the finest children's storybooks to be found.

Photo source: Bill Peet website

Bill Peet - The Storyboard Man

Bill Peet explaining the storyboard to Walt Disney from his autobiography, which I own.
Bill Peet explaining the storyboard to Walt Disney from his autobiography, which I own. | Source

Did You Know?

One of the many unique things about Bill Peet, is that he holds the distinction of being the only illustrator employed by Disney who was solely responsible for doing every one of the storyboards for two of the Disney films.

The first one, familiar to most of our readers, was 101 Dalmatians. It came out in theaters on January 25th, 1961.

The second one, was The Sword in the Stone which was hit the theaters on Christmas Day in 1963. His name was listed in the credits for the story, and for the screenplay.

Peet worked on many more familiar Disney films, such as:

  • Cinderella
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Dumbo
  • Fantasia
  • Peter Pan
  • Pinocchio
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  • Song of the South
  • The Jungle Book
  • The Three Caballeros

A reputed disagreement with Walt Disney, with whom he had worked for almost 30 years, resulted in him breaking away from the studio. He then concentrated on what he loved the most - drawing, storytelling, and illustration of those stories.

Droofus the Dragon loses his head, and how he did it.
Droofus the Dragon loses his head, and how he did it.

Droofus The Dragon

This delightful story, penned by Bill Peet in 1982, would have to be the one I would claim as my favorite. It is really hard to choose a favorite of his books, as they are all excellent.

Nevertheless, when a dragon is featured in a book written for children, it always piques my attention. How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head had me captivated the moment my eyes hit the cover!

Poor Droofus...

What I Appreciate About Bill Peet's Storybooks

Before I tell you what I really appreciate about Bill Peet's storybooks, allow me to take a glimpse into my literary past. Perhaps then, you will understand why I like his books so much.

According to my parents, I started reading coherently and voraciously, when I was two years old. I simply loved the printed word, and sixty years later - I still do!

My Stage Debut

When I was six, I remember my mother receiving a call from the principal of our school, asking if I would read aloud in the auditorium during an upcoming book fair. That phone call became the catalyst that started my public speaking "career". Perhaps that is why I have never had "butterflies" when I am speaking before an audience; I started doing that when I was very, very young.

At the book fair, the principal got up on the stage of the auditorium, and asked to have everyone's attention. He introduced me, and explained that I was going to read for them, to show them how important early reading should be to youngsters.

He handed me a book I had never seen before, opened it to a section he had marked, and asked me to start reading aloud. In a few minutes, he stopped me, and handed me another book. This continued for awhile, with each subsequent reading becoming a bit more advanced in grade level, and vocabulary.

Finally, I encountered a word I had not seen before. Not only did I not understand the word, I also found it difficult to pronounce. The principal was very nice about it, and told me how to say the word, and what it meant. I was reading at a middle school level, I believe, when he stopped me.

By the age of six, I had read lots and lots of books. My classmates were reading simple starters books like "Dick and Jane", but they appeared to be baby books, to me.

In first grade, I had two teachers, as we had a lot of students in one classroom. Because I already knew how to read, and was already writing in cursive, they decided I did not need much attention. Both of them basically ignored me, and then recommended that I should be skipped a grade. Consequently, I never attended second grade - which was fine with me!

I was not perturbed that my teachers left me to my own devices. It gave me time to read, and read, I did! I read encyclopedias, and dictionaries, and children's books, and textbooks, and anything else I could get my hands on. A lot of it was boring, but anything in print was "fair game". Reading was my passion, and I was free to indulge in it.

When I discovered Bill Peet's books, I had children of my own. I loved all of his stories, as they always were attention-grabbing, there were subtle morals taught in his books, and the illustrations were wonderful. I enjoyed them at first reading, and came to love and appreciate them more every time I read them again.

There are millions of children's book available, so it might be easy to overlook his works. That is exactly why I wanted to share them here with you.

If you have small children in your home, or are a grandparent, or an uncle or an aunt, please introduce the youngsters to Bill Peet's books. They will surely thank you!

Bill Peet - Master Illustrator

Bill Peet had an incredible talent for making fictional characters come alive. No wonder he was employed by Disney for 27 years! Take a look at Eleanor, the elephant. Can't you just picture an elephant performing as he portrays her, and look at the dismayed expression on her "face" - if one can say that elephants have a face.

How about the perturbed, anxious expression on Cowardly Clyde's horse?

Photo credits for the photos above:

The photos of the books above were taken by the author.

Bill Peet - Expert Storyteller

In addition to Bill Peet's prowess as an illustrator, he was an expert storyteller. If the amusing or intriguing illustrations on the covers of his children's books did not grab your attention, the contents certainly would. We always enjoyed reading his stories, perhaps as much as he enjoyed writing them, and when I read them to my children - I was just as interested in the stories as they were!

Nine of our favorite Bill Peet books

They are better "in-person"!
They are better "in-person"! | Source

In Bill's Own Words

Bill Peet's autobiography
Bill Peet's autobiography

Books Not Displayed Here

We simply wanted to introduce you to Bill Peet and his works, so we did not display all of his books here, or all of the things he was involved with in the Disney studios.

Not shown are the following excellent books:

  • The Ant and the Elephant
  • Big Bad Bruce
  • Countdown to Christmas
  • Fly Homer Fly
  • Huge Harold
  • The Pinkish, Purplish, Bluish Egg
  • Farewell to Shady Glade
  • Kermit the Hermit
  • Smokey
  • The Kweeks of Kookatumdee
  • Goliath II
  • The Gnats of Knotty Pine
  • The Luckiest One of All

Almost all of his books are available online

So many of the cherished children's books are out of print, but we believe all of Bill Peet's are still being published. We own just about every single one of them, and will keep them around, so we can read them to our grandchildren. I still think my favorite is How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head, but I would not be able list the rest in order of preference.

Every one of them has a good ending, and imparts a bit of wisdom to the readers. Please do not miss Bill Peet's works - they are simply wonderful.

His First Published Book

Hubert's Hair Raising Adventure by Bill Peet (Aug 22 1979)
Hubert's Hair Raising Adventure by Bill Peet (Aug 22 1979)

Hubert's mane actually was the cause of his "hair raising" adventure. You will chuckle as you read how he reacted to some issues he encountered with his locks.

 

Bill Peet - The Legacy Lives On

There are millions of children's books that have been published. Many of them enjoy popularity for a season, and are then relegated to the back shelves of the public's mind. Bill Peet's children's books are an exception. They were popular when they were first published, and most of them are still in print, today.

That is quite an accomplishment for a boy from Indiana, who had a dream!

All children like zebras

Zella, Zack and Zodiac
Zella, Zack and Zodiac

This funny story is about a mother zebra, her colt, and an orphaned ostrich who decides to be the champion of the zebra colt. I would tell you it is one of Bill Peet's best books, but we think all of them are great!

 

Listen to the Kweeks of Kookatumdee

Bill Peet Poll

Have you read any of his books?

See results

Two Ebay Sellers Who Usually Have His Books

Below, are two sellers on ebay, who normally have Bill Peet's books. We have purchased from both of them, and found their service to be prompt and the books "as described".

Photo Credits

Unless otherwise specified, all of the images portrayed here are from Bill Peet's books, that I own. - E. Tack

© 2014 Emily Tack

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    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      What a wonderful tribute to a great illustrator and writer of children's books. I honestly don't think I have heard of Bill Peet or any of his books mentioned here. Of course I know all the Disney films he was involved in. I really appreciate good illustration and his cover art is great. I have to look up some of these books and recommend or buy them for my grandchildren. Voted up.

    • Shades-of-truth profile image
      Author

      Emily Tack 2 years ago from USA

      Thank you, Jodah! I have a pile of his books within arm's reach at the moment. My children really liked them, as do my grandchildren. One thing I truly appreciated, from a parental aspect, was that all of them have a great outcome and subtly teach important lessons that will stick with their readers.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E. Franklin 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      I've not seen any of Bill Peet's books, but the cover illustrations you share certainly make them look really inviting for a child.

    • Shades-of-truth profile image
      Author

      Emily Tack 2 years ago from USA

      One thing I really enjoy about them, is that they always present a positive, wholesome outcome.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      I've never run across his books but appreciate your highlighting them here, as I have young nieces and nephews who could use some good story books. The illustrations are superb.

    • Shades-of-truth profile image
      Author

      Emily Tack 2 years ago from USA

      Thank you, "FlourishAnyway". I have all of the books portrayed here, right at my jewelry store. That way, when some of the grandchildren come to visit, I can share the books with them. We love them, and I am glad you liked the article!

    • profile image

      Aishah 2 years ago

      Yes - the Peet exhibition was up at Herron... I beielve last year (I'm a professor at IUPUI, Herron's new home) and it was little promoted much to the disappointment of me and many others. No one knew; I heard about it after it left.Maybe I'll make a point to catch Chicago. Thanks for this post.

    • Shades-of-truth profile image
      Author

      Emily Tack 2 years ago from USA

      Aishah, I would like to have seen that. Unfortunately, I am in FL. One of my many granddaughters read three of his books at my store, just today. I chuckled with her, as she delightedly turned the pages.

      I am so glad you liked him, too. You must have, or you would not have been disappointed that you missed the exhibition.

    • pagesvoice profile image

      Dennis L. Page 2 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border

      My wife has been teaching elementary school for 41 years now and is currently reading "Wump World" about cute little critters. She love this author.

    • Shades-of-truth profile image
      Author

      Emily Tack 2 years ago from USA

      I do, too! In my opinion, he outshines Dr. Seuss.

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