MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, December 2nd. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.
Good morning. I’m Myrna Brown.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Up next: A new animated TV series.
It’s based on the popular children’s books by Andrew Peterson. He’s a Christian singer/songwriter and author.
BROWN: The new series, The Wingfeather Saga, debuts today on the Angel Studios app. Arts and media editor Collin Garbarino talked to the show’s creators and brings us this review.
COLLIN GARBARINO: 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. WORLD has recommended these books before, and they’ve become favorites for many Christian families. But 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.
JANNER: Oh. The Bumpy digtoad. Stabbish elbows. Exceedingly hoppy underparts. Gum, gulp, and swallow anything it can catch. Whoah!
Just like the books, the series follows the adventures of the three Igiby children. Janner, Tink, and Leeli.
Janner is the oldest. And he loves books—especially his creaturepedia that catalogs all the strange animals that live in his world. Janner’s little brother Tink loves action, and the two of them sometimes get into scrapes as they explore the countryside.
TINK: I think he likes me. Well, likes the taste of me anyway.
JANNER: Look at the giant fangs on that thing! The toothy cow. It uses its long tail to distract its prey.
TINK: I’ll say.
JANNER: It’s toothiness is hideous and most dreadful deadly. And it’s bulbous eyes disorient hapless travelers with it’s crazed and malicious gleam. Malicious gleam? Does that mean you can eat it? Yuck!
Little sister Leeli spends most of her days back at the cottage with their ex-pirate grandfather Podo. Leeli uses a crutch because of her bad leg. But she doesn’t let it affect her sweet spirit and her dedication to the arts.
[LEELI PLAYING MUSIC]
PODO: Leeli girl, how about something with a little more giddy up.
LEELI: Like a pirate shanty? Maybe the one about Squid Belly the Wide?
PODO: Aye. That’s perfect.
LEELI: Uh oh. Nugget found more flaps.
Ever since Janner, Tink, and Leeli lost their father, their mother Nia has held the family together with warmth and quiet dignity.
NIA: Boys… You’re on dinner duty.
TINK: Super tasty—hungry—
JANNER: We’ll go wash up.
In some ways, the Igiby children have an idyllic childhood, but in other ways things are very wrong for the family. Scary lizardmen have seized control of their village. They’re the Fangs of Dang, and they’re led by a wicked master called Gnag the Nameless.
FANG: I’d love to slap shackles on you, but then Slab he’d have to drag that belly back to jail.
SLARB: He’s real plump alright.
FANG: You lose tool borrowing privileges for a month. Another violation and it’s the black carriage for you. Scribble your name.
But there’s more to these Igiby children than it seems at first glance. A great mystery surrounds their family. And Janner, Tink, and Leeli have a destiny to fulfill. They’ll need love, courage, and hope to save their world from that nameless evil Gnag.
The Wingfeather Saga contains some mildly scary scenes, but it’s a show for all ages that families can enjoy together.
I recently got the chance to sit down and talk with author Andrew Peterson and producer Chris Wall. Peterson shared what it was like to let other people take his story and start adapting it for the screen.
ANDREW PETERSON: I didn’t come into the animated series with any kind of illusion that the only way for this to be good is for me to have power over it. You know. It’s nice to know I can be in the room and speak up every now and then, but part of the amazing thing that Chris did was to pull together an incredible team of people who are better at their job than I will ever be at their job. So I get to just be a cheerleader, and be in the room and watch it happen.
Chris Wall has had a lot of experience in animation, previously working with Veggie Tales and Dreamworks Animation.
CHRIS WALL: I think the hardest part of adaptation is things feeling derivative. It’s a lesser version of… People say they want this—They want a page for page adaptation. No, you don’t! It will be really boring. What you want is give me a story.
Despite making some minor changes to bring the story to the screen, Wall and his team stay faithful to the spirit of Peterson's story. You can tell everyone involved loves Peterson’s books.
CHRIS WALL: I loved the stories. I loved reading them, and I didn’t want to break them. You know, get them wrong. I was wonderful to have Andrew join not as author but as executive producer alongside, and be able to make sure we’re headed the right way.
The Wingfeather Saga has great production values. I especially liked the animation’s style. It has a distinctive look—it feels like a moving watercolor painting. Real children voice the Igiby siblings, and they do a fine job. Jodi Benson, best known as the voice of the little mermaid, plays their mother Nia. The show’s folk-music soundtrack is both joyful and haunting.
If you love the books, you can watch the first episode of The Wingfeather Saga for free today on the Angel Studios app. The app is available on just about every streaming device. New episodes come out on December 16th and 30th. It’s not necessary to have read the books to enjoy the series. But if you haven’t read On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, you might want to pick it up while you wait for episode two.
AUDIO: [THEME MUSIC]
I’m Collin Garbarino.
WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.
Please wait while we load the latest comments...
Please register, subscribe, or log in to comment on this article.