The Wingfeather Saga
TELEVISION | Children’s animated fantasy series explores Christian ideas of fall and redemption
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In 2008, Andrew Peterson published the children’s novel On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness. It was the first volume in what would become The Wingfeather Saga—a fantasy adventure story that promotes virtue and the value of family. The final volume in the series, The Warden and the Wolf King, was WORLD’s 2014 Children’s Book of the Year, and these books have become favorites for many Christian families. Now—thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign—fans of the books can experience the story in a new way by watching The Wingfeather Saga animated series.
As in the books, the show follows the adventures of the three Igiby children: Janner, Tink, and Leeli. Janner, the oldest, loves books—especially his “creaturepedia” that catalogs all the strange animals that live in his world. Younger brother Tink loves action, and the two boys sometimes get into scrapes as they explore the countryside. Little sister Leeli spends most of her days at the cottage. Leeli uses a crutch because of her bad leg, but she doesn’t let disability affect her sweet spirit. The children’s father is dead, but their mother Nia holds the family together with love and quiet dignity—and with help from the children’s ex-pirate grandfather, Podo.
In some ways, the Igiby children have an idyllic childhood, but in other ways things are very wrong for the family. Evil lizardmen called the Fangs of Dang led by a wicked master called Gnag the Nameless have conquered the Igiby’s country and occupy their town. Despite the darkness that’s fallen on the Igibys, these first episodes contain heart and humor. Freedom-loving children can turn almost anything into a lighthearted game.
But there’s more to these Igiby children than it seems at first glance. A mystery surrounds their family, and Janner, Tink, and Leeli each have a destiny to fulfill. They’ll need love, courage, and hope to save their world from that nameless evil Gnag.
Showrunner Chris Wall has a lot of experience in animation, previously working with VeggieTales and Dreamworks Animation, and he knows that adaptations from novels sometimes let fans down. “The hardest part of adaptation is things feeling derivative, like it’s a lesser version,” Wall says. “People say they want a page-for-page adaptation. No, you don’t. It’ll be really boring. What you want is a story.” Lovers of The Wingfeather Saga can take comfort in knowing Peterson worked closely with Wall to keep the story’s spirit intact as it moved from page to screen.
Wall assembled a team of veteran animators, and The Wingfeather Saga has solid production values. The animation’s style has a distinctive feel—avoiding the generic Pixar-ish look that pervades many kids’ shows. His team uses a proprietary technique that makes the show look like a moving watercolor painting.
Jodi Benson, best known as the voice of the Little Mermaid, voices the mother Nia, and Kevin McNally from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies voices the grandfather Podo. Real children voice the Igiby siblings, and they do a great job. The show also features a folk-music soundtrack that’s both joyful and haunting. Much of the music is supplied by Peterson and Nashville band the Arcadian Wild.
The Wingfeather Saga contains some mildly scary scenes, but it’s a show for all ages that families can enjoy together. These first episodes feature stories of familial love and courage, but as the series continues, The Wingfeather Saga explores the distinctively Christian ideas of fall and redemption. “The book and the TV show have thoroughly melded themselves in my mind,” says Peterson. “The writing of the books followed by being involved in the animation series—we’ve just moved a little closer to the true heart of the story.”
The Wingfeather Saga will unfold over a planned seven seasons, and the first half of Season 1 debuts for free on the Angel Studios app during the month of December.
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