Goliath II

(previously in this series: Ella)

Well, three books in and I’ve already screwed up the chronology. I think I’ve got it all sorted now. This week, we return to 1959–the same year that Hubert’s Hair-Raising Adventure came out. Hubert was the true beginning of Peet’s career as a children’s book creator, but we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Goliath II.

Released as a Little Golden Book, Goliath II is actually an adaptation of the 1960 Disney short that Peet wrote. He didn’t work on the animation for that short, but he did illustrate this book, so the two are certainly distinct from each other. I’m planning to get to Peet’s animation work in due course, so I won’t dwell on the film version here.

However, I will say that the film packs in some familiar faces. It’s got Sterling Holloway (the original Winnie the Pooh) as narrator, Goliath I and his elephant crew look remarkably similar to Colonel Hathi and his crew from The Jungle Book, and Tick-Tock Croc (from Peter Pan) appears as the crocodile. Peet’s book version, by contrast, feels wholly original.

Goliath II is the son of an elephant leader: Goliath I (naturally). He’s 8 years old, and he’s only 5 inches high. He’s a disgrace to his father. He’s a misunderstood diamond in the rough to his mother. And he’s a snack-size morsel to the local tiger. The story itself has all the hallmarks of a Bill Peet story: underdog overcomes his “limitations” and ultimately proves his worth to those who bullied and didn’t appreciate him.

The story moves along rather briskly. We only have 22 pages (with 3-4 sentences per page) to cover the same ground the film had 15 minutes to explore. It’s also told in prose, which is a marked contrast to the first few books of Peet’s solo writer/illustrator career.

The style also feels right at home with the rest of Peet’s canon. The crayon/charcoal coloring. The low perspective. The underdog story. The “believe in yourself” moral. The inclusion of elephants, a mouse, and a big cat (a tiger), which all feature prominently in later books.

Combined with Hubert’s Hair-Raising Adventure, 1959 marked an auspicious “start” to Peet’s second career as a children’s book author and illustrator. He certainly started out with a bang.

Verdict? I wish the story were longer. I wish he had more pages to explore the character of Goliath II. As it is, the book breezes by. It’s wonderfully enjoyable, but it’s just too short. This is also one of the more difficult-to-find Bill Peet books. As far as I know, it was only ever released as a Little Golden Book. This is one to look for in used-book shops and thrift stores (and eBay, if you’re so inclined).

 

3 thoughts on “Goliath II

  1. Here’s a chronological list of my father’s books except for Goliath II. He did not do the cover illustration for Goliath II. There is an example of color separation on my website, billet.net.

    BILL PEET BOOKS

    1) HUBERT’S HAIR-RAISING ADVENTURE 1959 Verse Color separation
    2) HUGE HAROLD 1961 Verse Color separation
    3) SMOKEY 1962 Verse Color separation
    4) THE PINKISH, PURLISH, BLUISH EGG 1963 Verse Color separation
    5) RANDY’S DANDY LIONS 1964 Verse Color separation
    6) ELLA 1964 Verse Color separation
    7) KERMIT THE HERMIT 1965 Verse Color separation
    8) CHESTER THE WORLDLY PIG 1965 Color separation
    9) CAPYBOPPY 1966 Black and white
    10) FAREWELL TO SHADY GLADE 1966 Color separation
    11) BUFORD THE LITTLE BIGHORN 1967 Color separation
    12) JENNIFER AND JOSEPHINE 1967 Color separation
    13) FLY HOMER FLY 1969
    14) THE WUMP WORLD 1970
    15) THE WHINGDINGDILLY 1970
    16) HOW DROOFUS THE DRAGON LOST HIS HEAD 1971
    17) THE CABOOSE WHO GOT LOOSE 1971 Verse
    18) THE ANT AND THE ELEPHANT 1972
    19) COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS (out of print) 1972
    20) THE SPOOKY TAIL OF PREWITT PEACOCK 1973
    21) MERLE THE HIGH FLYING SQUIRREL 1974
    22) CYRUS THE UNSINKABLE SEA SERPENT 1975
    23) THE GNATS OF KNOTTY PINE 1975
    24) BIG BAD BRUCE 1977
    25) ELI 1978
    26) COWARDLY CLYDE 1979
    27) ENCORE FOR ELEANOR 1981
    28) THE LUCKIEST ONE OF ALL 1982 Verse
    29) NO SUCH THINGS 1983 Verse
    30) PAMELA CAMEL 1984
    31) THE KWEEKS OF KOOKATUMDEE 1985 Verse
    32) ZELLA, ZACK AND ZODIAC 1986 Verse
    33) JETHRO AND JOEL WERE A TROLL 1987
    34) BILL PEET: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY 1989 Black and white
    35) COCK-A-DOODLE DUDLEY 1990

    • This is fantastic! Thanks so much! And what an honor to have you visit my site! I hope you’ll stick around. We’re doing one book a week before going back and looking at his animation work.

  2. I’m 53 years young , Golith ll will always be my favorite book . I fell in love with elephants as a child because of it . I was so excited to find this info , for years I have been trying to remember the name of the book to no avail until today. I used to pretend I would carry him around with me . My parents worried about me !!! I wanted an elephant . It instilled a life long admiration and love of a majestic animal . Thank you , Bill Peet . Now I’m going to be on a mad search to find a copy 🐘

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