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Peter Gets Caught
In a Makeover:
Old Story, New Tail
Beatrix Potter's signature character gets Disneyfied down.
BY ERIC GIBSON
Friday, September 7, 2001 12:01 a.m. EDT
Poor Peter Rabbit. He has bigger things to worry about than Mr. McGregor, the
curmudgeonly gardener who goes after him every time he steals in for a quick
radish. These days, it's the people on his own side of the fence, his
publishers, who pose the greatest threat.
Next year will mark the centenary of Beatrix Potter's "The Tale of Peter
Rabbit," the first of nearly two-dozen children's stories she wrote and
illustrated. Penguin Books is planning a twofold celebration. Frederick Warne
(her original publisher and now a Penguin subdivision) will reissue 23
stories, some with illustrations by Potter that had been dropped from later
editions of her work.
But Penguin will also launch "Peter Rabbit Seedlings," a series of
adaptations aimed at the infant-toddler market, for which it has commissioned
an artist to redraw Peter. The new version will have heavier outlines, darker
clothing and fur, and a younger mien, to show him in a "more dynamic light,
doing things that children now want their book characters to be doing," as a
Penguin spokesman told the London Independent. Kids, say hello to the Mighty
Morphin Power Rabbit.