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‘Cautionary Tales’ flips the script on classic Disney villains

Miya Norfleet
St. Louis Public Radio

Ever wonder who first found the Cave of Wonders in "Aladdin"? Or how Chernabog got his taste for human souls in "Fantasia"? Or what it’s like to explore the Disney archives with little to no adult supervision?

For answers, you would have to ask author Ridley Pearson. On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, the author and St. Louis Walk of Fame honoree discussed all things Disney with producer Miya Norfleet — including his favorite villains.

Pearson’s latest book is “Cautionary Tales,” a collection of scary stories starring favorite Disney villains. The tales weave in origin stories of famous Disney villains, but in ways even the biggest Disney fans wouldn’t expect.

The plot of “Cautionary Tales” centers around two teenagers, Billie Templeton and Tim Walters, who are stuck at their parents’ offices since their school is closed for the day. That might sound boring, but their parents have no ordinary jobs. In fact, their parents are Disney Imagineers.

Tim Walters navigates Sleepy Hallow in 'Cautionary Tales'
Abigail Larson
Tim Walters navigates Sleepy Hallow in "Cautionary Tales."

“[Billie and Tim] wander into the archives and get in serious trouble,” said Pearson. “But it’s all to our benefit because we get eight wonderful short stories out of it.”

Billie and Tim’s adventures through the Disney archives are heavily inspired by Pearson’s own research in the real archives in Burbank, California. Pearson, who spent decades living in St. Louis before moving to Colorado, said he based characters in the book on the actual people who work in the archives today.

“At that time, there was an upstairs archive that had all the props you can imagine from ‘Flubber,’ to witches' brooms, to umbrellas from ‘Mary Poppins,’” he said. “And it's just shelf after shelf after shelf like a library but stacked with props that you recognize.”

You can grab a copy of “Cautionary Tales” on Tuesday at Left Bank Books and meet the mind behind the twists and turns connecting Disney’s most evil villains.

‘Cautionary Tales’ flips the script on classic Disney villains

Related Event

What: "Cautionary Tales" book launch
When: 6 p.m. Oct. 4
Where: Left Bank Books
399 N. Euclid Ave, St. Louis, MO 63108

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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