Glen Keane has probably touched your life, whether you recognize the name or not.
If you were a kid in the early 90s, you probably watched his animation of Ariel in The Little Mermaid, the titular Beast in Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin himself in Aladdin. You may have seen his newer independent short films Duet, Nephtali, and Dear Basketball, and he was the driving force behind the development of Disney’s Tangled.
What you may have missed are his childrens books.
Originally published in 1987, Keane’s Adam Raccoon books are fun and furry parables for children, bursting with Keane’s exuberant drawings. Drawn in raw, organic pencil sketches, the mischievous raccoon and his friends have all the expressiveness of Keane’s Disney animation. Keane had reconnected with his faith a few years before working on these books, and the joy he brings to the books shows his eagerness to dive deeper into stories and themes from scripture.
Over the course of eight volumes, Adam builds a flying machine, encounters a fearsome giant, runs away to the circus, and deals with foul play in a soccer tournament… but King Aren, the lion, watches out for Adam each step of the way and patiently endures Adam’s missteps. Their world is bustling with animal extras with personalities of their own.
The books are being republished by Green Egg Media. It’s a lovely, colorful bundle of hardcovers, and I have already gushed over Keane’s artistry—but what really impressed me is how textured these stories are, considering their nature as picture-book parables. Taken at face value, a parent could easily read the books as straight-forward fables with a single moral, but both the text and art are full of prompts for more textured conversations about life, truth and scripture.
Have you encountered the Adam Raccoon books before? What do you value in a children’s picture book? And how has Glen Keane’s art touched your life?
Leave your thoughts in the comments, and I’ll select one comment for a giveaway of the ENTIRE SET, courtesy of the publisher!
Jonny Jimison is a talented cartoonist and graphic novelist. In addition to a long history of web-based cartoons, he's the author of Dragon Lord Saga series of graphic novels, including Martin & Marco and The River Fox. Jonny lives and works in Jacksonville, Florida.