|Illustration for "Some New Year's Resolutions" (January 2, 1915)|
|Illustration for "Peter Rabbit's great discovery" (January 13, 1915)|
|Illustration for "Solid comfort in the Smiling Pool" (February 1, 1915)|
|Illustration for "A foolish fight" (February 9, 1915)|
|Illustration for "High Cockalorum! Chick-Chickadee!" (February 18, 1915)|
|Illustration for "Blacky the Crow calls his friends" (March 12, 1915)|
|Illustration for "Buster Bear has his picture taken" (April 3, 1915)|
|Illustration for "A happy, happy Easter" (April 5, 1915)|
|Illustration for "The little toads start out to see the world" (April 16, 1915)|
|Illustration for "Little Joe Otter springs a surprise" (May 10, 1915)|
|Illustration for "The great world seems cold and cruel" (June 17, 1915)|
|Illustration for "Peter Rabbit and Johnny Chuck help" (July 22, 1915)|
|Illustration for "Owner of the strange eggs discovered" (July 30, 1915)|
|Illustration for "The jumping match" (August 6, 1915)|
|Illustration for "Little Mr. Garter Snake is admitted" (August 23, 1915)|
|Illustration for "The funny toes of Sticky-Toes" (September 4, 1915)|
|Illustration for "What happened among the bee hives" (September 17, 1915)|
|Illustration for "Farmer Brown's boy speaks his mind" (October 22, 1915)|
|Illustration for "How universal fear draws all together" (November 3, 1915)|
|Illustration for "How Flathorns the Moose got even" (November 17, 1915)|
|Illustration for "How a tail saved a life" (December 18, 1915)|
|Illustration for "A Christmas Party in the Old Orchard" (December 28, 1915)|
The stories of 1915 produced fewer books than previous years, but Burgess finally achieved the balance between nature study, moral instruction, and entertainment that would be a feature of his work for the next 45 years. There were no glaring examples of nature fakery or inaccuracy, and Burgess would occasionally pause narratives to present interesting nature facts, such as the way a toad's tongue is attached (at the front of its mouth) or the value of the black tip on a white weasel's tail. Even the (frankly commercial) premise of the "Quaddies" (story #1000) was based on a real-life understanding of alarms and signal eavesdropping in the animal world.
Burgess's mission of kindness (and his abhorrence of hunting) became more and more apparent in 1915, particularly in respect to the Bob White, a "useful" bird to farmers that was nevertheless slaughtered in great numbers during fall hunting season. The premise of reciprocity (part of the Bedtime Stories Club membership pitch) was dramatized via the Happy Jack story (the gray squirrel and chickadee visiting Farmer Brown's boy to cheer him up while he was sick) and the short episode in July in which the birds (and other animals) feel compelled to do something nice for him. Evil is also reciprocated, as in Honker the Goose's tales of a trapper camp wrecked by a wolverine and a hunter chased up a tree by a wounded moose.
As discussed elsewhere in some detail, 1915 was also the year that Burgess began writing "Personal Letters" to the Bedtime Stories Clubs at newspapers hosting the feature. This allowed Burgess to address more explicitly some of the themes that he could only express dramatically in the stories and gave readers (into 1916) Burgess material 7 days a week. Indeed, in many ways 1915 was a peak year for Thornton Burgess's creations. The Quaddy Playthings Manufacturing Company (based in Kansas City) had a variety of Burgess character toys ready for the Christmas season. And the musical and pantomime extravaganza "Peter Rabbit in Dreamland" had its debut.
Farmer Brown's Boy
Now thoroughly converted as a friend to the animals, Farmer Brown's boy became a model advocate for and defender of the animals living on his family's property. Even animals that might be labeled pests or vermin (such as great horned owls) are eventually treated with respect; when Farmer Brown suggests that Buster Bear might need to be killed after he discovered (and wrecked) the sugarhouse, his son vigorously objects and comes up with an alternative effective but nonlethal plan. In the Bob White episode we see that Farmer Brown's boy is an articulate spokesman for the rights of animals.