Takeaway: Honesty is refreshing, although a bit surprising in a memoir.
Like pretty much every Evangelical, I have been a big fan of Veggie Tales. I bought them for myself, for others, for my church nursery. I also used to live in Chicago when where Big Idea was based and Lisa Vischer was a Wheaton College alum only a few years before me. (And I briefly met her in the fall of 94, excited to meet the voice of Junior Asparagus.) As Visher rightly discerns, it was not moms of young families, but College students that really helped spread Veggie Tales to the masses.
Vischer’s story starts with his childhood, his early creations, his parent’s divorce and his desire to become the next Walt Disney before diving into the creation of what became Veggie Tales and Big Idea.
The story of Veggie Tales is interesting (although occasionally it is a bit technical and overly detailed.) But what makes this book worth reading and an early contender for one of the best books I read in 2015 is that this is an honest story of failure.
You may not know this, but the day after the premier of the first full length Veggie Tales movie Jonah (which performed far above expectations), nearly half the workforce at Big Idea was laid off. And that was just the start of a slow decent into bankruptcy and the company being auctioned off.
While Vischer is funny throughout, the real treasure of the book is his honesty. Most Christian books, especially memoirs, are about how God worked through them and how they were obedient. Me, Myself, and Bob is honest about about the growth of Veggie Tales and Vischer’s talent (and a bit of luck at being at the cutting edge of a change in technology). But Vischer is also honest about his own weaknesses, his desire to please people, his desire to be important and his many business mistakes.
Most of all this is a story about someone that thought they had a call from God to do something particular, and then decided to help God accomplish it in the way that he thought was best.
The last quarter of the book, after clearly detailing his early life and rise and fall of Big Idea, Vischer walks through what he has learned about himself, God and the idea of calling (as well as some thoughts on business and leadership). I am not a business book reader. But this was good, it was anti-leadership advice or at least non-standard leadership advice.
I wish more Christian books, memoirs in particular, were as open about the bad as they are about the good. I think we as readers would be much better off understanding the actual work of God behind the scenes and the reality of meandering and wandering growth.