Saturday, November 3, 2012

Burgess Bedtime Stories 1934

The Stories

January 1 to January 9. (Continued from 1933). Butcher the Shrike terrorizes the Old Orchard.

January 10 to January 22. Hairy Woodpecker has troubles.

January 23 to January 30. Whitey the Owl tangles with Hooty the Owl and Reddy Fox.

January 31 to February 17. The foxes have some good fortune hunting but ultimately their hunger leads them to Bowser the Hound's food bowl.

February 19 to February 24. Peter Rabbit pesters Johnny Chuck about his shadow. Later Reddy Fox reads their tracks in the snow to learn what happened.

February 26 to March 10. The mice and rats are upset when Saw-Whet the Owl moves into the barn.

March 12 to March 23. Peter Rabbit and Jimmy Skunk encounter a "monster" on the road at night.

March 24 to April 21. A flood disrupts the worlds of the Smiling Pool and the Green Meadows and leaves a raft full of animals (including Peter Rabbit, Nanny and Danny Meadow Mouse, Johnny Chuck, a skunk and Mrs. Jerry Muskrat) stranded in the water. 

April 23 to May 1. Jerry and Mrs. Jerry Muskrat are faced with the task of rebuilding their home. 

May 2 to May 10. Peeper the Hyla, Stickytoes the Tree Frog, and Old Mr. Toad make a funny trio. (Partially reprinted in At the Smiling Pool).

May 11 to June 6. The Kingfishers have a new family and Billy Mink is very interested in them. The young kingfishers get lessons in living. (Partially reprinted in At the Smiling Pool).

June 7 to June 16. Grandfather Frog, the "Smiling Pool Philosopher," dodges Longlegs the Heron and almost catches Little Friend the Song Sparrow. (Partially reprinted in At the Smiling Pool).

June 18 to August 5. After some scares (mower, blacksnake) the Rabbits have a new family and smart young Wigglenose goes adventuring.

August 6 to August 9. Wigglenose and Farmer Brown's boy think they see a garter snake take young snakes into her mouth for protection but don't know for sure. 

August 10 to September 1. Reddy Fox uses all of his charm to try to trick Wigglenose.

September 3 to September 8. Bobby Coon makes the mistake of angering Jimmy Skunk when both show up at Farmer Brown's boy's woodshed nightclub.

September 10 to September 15. Farmer Brown's boy adopts Little Jimmy Skunk as a pet.

September 17 to September 22. Lightfoot must lead dogs away from his family and also escape with his life. 

September 24 to October 13. Paddy the Beaver has wanderlust and spends some time at new beaver colony off the Big River. He is not impressed by the carelessness of his new friends.

October 15 to October 25. Paddy the Beaver prepares for the winter, but loses a child to Yowler the Bobcat. 

October 26 to November 10. Spite the Marten terrorizes the Green Forest.

November 12 to November 26. Mrs. Quack is even more bitter than ever and Honker the Goose has lost all respect for two-legged creatures.

November 27 to December 20. Danny and Nanny Meadow Mouse move into the "cornfield apartments" but Meadow Mouse Town turns into a horror show when Shadow the Weasel arrives. Miner the Mole helps them escape.

December 21 to December 26. Despair is lifted after a Farmer Brown's boy provides the animals with a full Christmas meal.

December 27 to December 31. Bobby Coon wanders in the winter. (continued in 1935).


Things were again grim in the world of Burgess stories in 1934. The year started with Butcher the Shrike picking off mice and song birds in the Old Orchard (displaying their corpses) and ended with a rogues gallery of predators led by Shadow the Weasel (and including, once again, Butcher the Shrike) massacring meadow mice in the cornfield. (The latter episode was particularly shocking as Burgess had for about a week previous been describing the society of the doomed "Meadow Mouse Town" and the activities of its citizens.)

A familiar flood ravaged the worlds of Burgess's characters in April (the real Laughing Brook in Hamden, MA regularly floods in the spring), and the unlikely spectacle of assorted characters all traveling on the same raft would be repeated in future years.

Hunters, with the exception of the "killer" dogs chasing Lightfoot the Deer, were absent from the main action in 1934, though Mrs. Quack and Honker the Goose had very strong stories to tell about the treacherous and unsporting behavior of hunters.

Farmer Brown's boy, while not the dominant actor in the year's stories, played a familiar role as the savior of animals in peril (Tommy Tit and Lightfoot the Deer rushed to his safety to escape from enemies and he saved the animals who were stranded on the raft in the flood) and provider of food for the hungry. He adopted a pet skunk (Burgess had several in real life) and set up a night club in his woodshed to feed skunks and raccoons. The night club was inspired by the real life experiences of an old neighbor of Burgess's in Cape Cod--in future years, the night club would move to "Aunt Sally's" house and Farmer Brown's boy would be a visitor.

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