Basing a show for preschoolers on one of the most beloved stories of all time is quite an endeavor, and Peter Rabbit's Christmas Tale
, a holiday special from Nickelodeon, is just such an undertaking. The timeless characters from Beatrix Potter's
charming stories are well known and held very dear to many, so it's definitely a risk to expand upon her work and create new adventures for her characters. You can read our review of Peter Rabbit's Christmas Tale here
and add your own thought about the show, and following are a few fun facts I learned about the Peter Rabbit special when I spoke with Teri Weiss (EVP, Nickelodeon Preschool)...
- The character of Lily Bobtail is based on Beatrix Potter. Teri Weiss said of Beatrix:
She was really ahead of her time. She was a woman who was very focused on business and industry, and she was somebody who really saw the potential of literary properties. She created products out of her stories. She really had a sensibility about her. She was a pioneer of environmental issues, and she was very very active in preserving the lake district and it’s land. She was very outspoken. She was very much in charge her publishing career. For somebody at that time, it was very unusual.
And how is Lily like Beatrix?:
What we wanted to to was kind of borrow from those elements of Beatrix Potter and make Lily that kind of very self assured, confident girl. But at the same time, the other side of Beatrix Potter that we wanted to capture and put into Lily Bobtail, was that Beatrix wrote these stories for kids, and that’s how she started. She had this very childlike quality to her about the way she related to animals, and she had pet bunnies and stuff.
And, I think that while Lily can be very pragmatic in terms of wrangling those boys and getting them to focus on what we need to do to solve this problem, she’s also very excited to go on the adventure. She wants to have fun. She’s excited to get in that sleigh and ride all over the place and join those boys in whatever they’re up to. She wants to slide down the tunnel. So, I think there’s this nice balance. There can be a very practical side, a very sensible side. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be adventurous and playful.
- Beatrix Potter's stories were inspired by the Lake District area where she spent many of her childhood days and much time and effort on preserving as an adult. In order to get the setting for Peter Rabbit just right, the show creators took over 3000 photos of the Lake District for reference material.
- Peter Rabbit's Christmas Tale took two years to make. Here is what Teri told us took so long:
This show has been about two years in the making, in terms of making sure that the animation style was exactly what we wanted. I think Brown Bag, the animation company, has done such an amazing job bringing those bunnies to life. They were so focused on making that hair look so real and making the bunnies feel lifelike in a way that kids would just fall in love with them. There’s actually someone on the Brown Bag animation team who is the fur groomer. That’s his job.
And then it was about bringing a stellar group of writers together that could capture the spirit of Peter Rabbit and figure out how to make many stories out of this classic tale and collection of stories. Because, we wanted it to feel current in the way that kids feel that level of excitement and adventure. And we wanted to preserve a certain level of mischievousness that Beatrix Potter created, but still at the same time make Peter really loveable, and make kids feel like he’s just a great role model and a leader. He’s so determined and resilient, and it’s so important for kids today to feel like they can rise to a challenge -- even if it’s their own created problem, that they can get themselves out of it.
- The soundtrack of Peter Rabbit's Christmas Tale provides a beautiful backdrop for the story. Teri revealed the surprising inspiration for the music:
With Peter Rabbit, we wanted to do something that was surprising and unexpected in terms of the sound of the show. I think that many people would have suspected that we might have gone classical music, and we really wanted to do something that felt much more current and captured the excitement and the surprising nature of the show.
We talked a lot about Mumford and Sons early on and about how that sound might be the last thing that somebody might think we would mesh with Peter Rabbit, but it was the launching point. It was kind of like, we love that sound, we love that music, we think it would work great against the way the show looks and the spirit of the stories that we’re telling, and it evolved into the music that you see.
- This wintery special is an introduction to a new series for preschoolers that will air on Nickelodeon. We can't wait for more!