"I have written and illustrated more than thirty books and all but two are fantasies, make believe stories snatched out of thin air. The Whingdingdilly, for instance, came out of a guessing game I used when I visited schools years ago to talk with kids and draw pictures for them. I made animal drawings on an oversized sketch pad so everyone could watch. As soon as I started a drawing, the kids would all try to guess what it might be. I like to keep them guessing as long as possible by putting off drawing the most recognizable parts of the animal until the last minute. But I could never fool them for long, especially when it came to elephants. Even if I started with just a foot and a few toenails, someone in the group would whisper "Elephant" and the guessing game was over. Being a poor loser, I resorted to trickery, and after starting a drawing of an animal they were sure to recognize, I'd switch to a different one. I might start with a rhino's head with a horned snout and have them shouting 'Rhino! Rhino!' then quickly add moose horns, a shaggy lion's mane, a giraffe's neck, or whatever came to mind. Then there were shouts of 'Not fair! Not fair! That's cheating!'

But their protests were always in fun, and as I continued to add odd parts, the kids would laugh all the way. And laughter is beautiful music. Since the creatures I drew were so funny to kids, I decided one belonged in a storybook. So I designed a combination rhino, giraffe, elephant, camel, zebra, reindeer, and, part dog. As it turned out, the dog was the most important part of the 'thing' since the story is about an old farm dog named Scamp, and the hodgepodge of an animal finally became the Whingdingdilly."


Bill working in his studio on his last book, Cock-a-Doodle Dudley, in 1989..



"I write about animals because I love to draw them. But, I also put people in my books, lots of people. There are farmers, clowns, hunters, lion tamers, hobos, school kids, teachers, cowboys, Indians, roustabouts, knights in armor, pirates, kings, ringmasters, and railroad engineers. Most of my animal characters have human personalities, and some are much like people I have known. Of all the questions coming from the kids over the years there are a couple that always leave me flat, at a loss for words: 'How come you always make Bill Peet books?', and then, 'What do you do for a living?!!?'"