Monday, October 8, 2012

Burgess Bedtime Stories 1921

The Stories

January 1 to January 6. Prickly Porky saves Peter Rabbit from Shadow the Weasel. Continued from 1920.
Illustration for "Sammy Jay makes a shrewd guess" (January  24, 1921)
January 7 to January 24.  Sammy Jay and Blacky the Crow use Farmer Brown's boy and his gun to drive Whitey the Snowy Owl from the Green Forest.
Illustration for "Peter sees a queer procession" (February 26, 1921)
January 25 to March 5. Peter Rabbit takes a sometimes startling tour of some of the "seven sleepers," including woodchuck, skunk, raccoon, chipmunk, and black bear.
Illustration for "Mother comes to the rescue" (April 20, 1921)
March 7 to June 6. Mrs. Buster Bear has adventurous, trouble-making twins, Boxer and Woof-woof. Much of it reprinted in Buster Bear's Twins.
Illustration for "King Eagle's Return" (June 15, 1921)
June 6 to June 16. King Eagle brings news of a forest fire. Luckily rains (predicted by Stickytoes) come before the fire can reach the Green Forest.

June 17 to June 22. Mrs. Lightfoot has twins and defends them fiercely from predators.

June 23 to July 2. When the wrens make their nest in an old coat, Farmer Brown's boy does his best to protect them.
Illustration for "Redhead is in great trouble" (July 5, 1921).
July 4 to July 11. Farmer Brown's boy takes care of Redhead the Woodpecker after he is injured by Sharpshin the Hawk.
Illustration for "Farmer Brown's Boy carries Bowser home" (July 16, 1921)
July 12 to July 16. Bowser runs himself ragged trying to catch Reddy Fox.
Illustration for "Sammy Jay's success" (August 10, 1921)
July 18 to August 13. A young heron gets caught in a trap and the animals alert Farmer Brown's boy to help him. Reprinted in Longlegs the Heron.
Illustration for "Mr. Blacksnake is made uncomfortable" (August 19, 1921)
August 15 to August 25. Old Mr. Toad changes his suit and gets a drink after Farmer Brown's boy chases off Mr. Blacksnake.
Illustration for "Striped Chipmunk has a temper" (September 7, 1921)
August 26 to September 24. Farmer Brown's boy tests Striped Chipmunk's ability to deal with blocked entrance holes. Then when Black Pussy starts stalking him, Striped Chipmunk gets Jimmy Skunk to take care of the threat.
Illustration for "The cubs have a great treat" (October 15, 1921)
September 26 to October 25. The bear twins go berrying at the same time as Farmer Brown's boy, with humorous complications. Then its time for a beechnut party.
Illustration for "Bobby Coon has pleasant dreams" (October 26, 1921)
October 26 to November 2. Peter Rabbit's friends prepare for what they believe is going to be a hard winter.
Illustration for "Why the hunter got no ducks" (November 22, 1921)
November 3 to November 28. Blacky the Crow and Farmer Brown's boy work to protect the Quacks and the Black Ducks from hunters.
Illustration for "A mischievous Merry Little Breeze" (December 10, 1921)
November 29 to December 10. Everyone is interested in the geese resting at Paddy the Beaver's pond.
Illustration for "Peter is in the tightest of places" (December 20, 1921)  Note: Cady mistakenly gives the bobcat a long tail.
December 12 to December 24. The cold weather arrives and the bears leave to hibernate. Peter Rabbit's  curiosity about the bears' hibernation spot gets him trapped by Yowler the Bobcat.

December 26 to December 31. Old Man Coyote stalks Mrs. Lightfoot's fawns (continued in 1922).


1921 was effectively the last year to produce full-length Burgess books until the 1940s. The year's centerpiece was a long series of stories recounting the discovery of bear cubs in the Green Forest and the cubs' adventures, published as Buster Bear's Twins in 1923.  There is a particularly shocking scene in the book in which Buster, who has no idea he even has children, tries to kill the cubs as prey (they are rescued by their mother). This represents an evolving movement in Burgess's stories toward a more naturalistic depiction of kinship relationships between animals. The roles of mother and father or father and child in the animal world no longer had direct moral correspondence between such roles in the human world.

Burgess continued his practice of telling anti-hunting stories when autumn hunting season came around, this time involving a flock of black ducks lured by hunters through the use of bait corn (a common unsportsmanlike hunting practice). A hunter also went after the flock of Honker the Goose, only to be scared off by Buster Bear. [Another repeat scenario].

Farmer Brown's Boy

The character of Farmer Brown's Boy became ever more central in 1921, having a significant role in most of the year's major storylines. He nursed a red headed woodpecker and a young great blue heron back to health. He frightened Whitey the Owl away with his terrible gun (unlike the case of the goshawk, Farmer Brown's boy was aiming to miss). He messed with Striped Chipmunk, closing up entry holes to see how the animal would react. He had multiple encounters with bears. And he actively prevented the unfair baiting hunter from getting a black duck by scaring them off with his own gun. 

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