Bill Peet: An Autobiography

Book review by
Tanya Smith, Common Sense Media
Bill Peet: An Autobiography Book Poster Image
Former Disney illustrator shares his life story.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this irresistible autobiography, written as a simple children's story, boasts lots of funny drawings, including favorite Disney characters.

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What's the story?

Discover the story behind the real-life genius who illustrated Peter Pan and Sleeping Beauty for the silver screen. Bill Peet, a former Disney illustrator and the author/illustrator of scores of children's books, weaves a fascinating tale out of his own life story. Hundreds of lively characters, including Disney's own Dumbo and the 101 Dalmatians, dance across the pages of this delightful book.

Is it any good?

With tenderness and affection, Bill Peet spins his life story into a children's tale in this illustration-packed volume. The first half covers Peet's boyhood adventures in the Midwest with enjoyable tales about drawing and fishing. The only element missing from the first part is a deeper sense of how Peet felt during the book's most poignant moments: being teased for not having his father around, and his father's sudden reappearance in his life, an event Peet says "marked the end of a happy childhood."

The second half of the narrative mainly details the pressures Peet felt as a Disney employee, as well as his struggle to develop a solo career. Still, it shines a revealing light on the inner workings at Disney, and readers are treated to the tale of how the classic song "When You Wish Upon a Star," from the Disney movie Pinocchio, came to be. With a breezy storytelling style and delightful illustrations, Peet moves readers through the events of his life; although the book runs nearly 200 pages, the drawings take up more than half.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the story behind the familiar Disney images. Does this book change the way you see Disney movies and products?

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