Smokey

(previous entries in this series are here.)

Following on from 1961’s Huge Harold is Smokey, which was published in 1962. Smokey has some of the same themes as Huge Harold–namely, the character that doesn’t fit in and needs to find his rightful place in the world. As I said before, this is a theme that pops up again and again in Peet’s work.

Smokey is an old switch engine who longs to travel the open country like the big diesel engines he so admires. He dreams big. He imagines himself out there, among mountains and plains, traveling over bridges and through tunnels. Alas, that’s not his place in life. As the cover suggests, things do not work out well for poor Smokey.

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Huge Harold

(previously in this series: Goliath II)

I’m correcting the chronology, finally. The second book I covered, Ella, was out of place by a few years (and a few books). This time, we’re looking at 1961’s Huge Harold, Peet’s second true solo book (not counting Goliath II, which is its own thing outside of Peet’s work with Sandpiper/Houghton Mifflin, who published his entire body of work).

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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.

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Ella

(previously in this series: Hubert’s Hair-Raising Adventure)

Continuing our journey through the career of Bill Peet, we pick up Ella (1964) this week. I had originally wanted to do the books in chronological order, but (1) I don’t own all of them, especially since a few are long out of print and very difficult/pricey to obtain; and (2) I can’t seem to find a definitive bibliography of his books in order of publication. If anyone has one, please send it my way. In the meantime, I’ll do the best I can.

Ella is the story of a circus elephant who is bit of a prima donna.

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Hubert’s Hair-Raising Adventure

If I had to pick a single favorite children’s author/illustrator, it would undoubtedly be Bill Peet. Since I was a kid, I’ve been in love with his style and his stories. Every character is given life and loving detail, even if just in the background. Even the scenery is given its own personality. A barn, windmill, or gnarly old tree all come to life in a Bill Peet book. When I was in elementary school, the school librarian would re-create pages from Peet’s books on large sheets of drawing paper and use them during storytime. They hooked me.

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