Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Burgess Bedtime Stories 1946

The Stories

(Note: No images for the near future. I've exceeded my Google photo space allotment.)

January 1. (continued from 1945). Whitey the Snowy Owl steals duck from hunter.

January 2 to January 12. Peter Rabbit accuses Reddy Fox of eating Johnny Chuck (he's actually in another hole). Peter searches for more "seven sleepers."

January 14 to January 19. Peter Rabbit is surprised to find a butterfly (mourning cloak) in the winter. Then he encounters a wooly bear caterpillar.

January 21 to January 26. Peter Rabbit  learns about shrews and moles.

January 28 to February 1. Flathorns the Moose tells Lightfoot the Deer about wolves and wolverines.

February 2. Peter Rabbit believes in Groundhog Day. Mrs. Peter doesn't. 

February 4 to February 9. Chickaree the Red Squirrel is chased by Spite the Marten who is chased by Pekan the Fisher.

February 11 to February 18. Jerry and Mrs. Jerry Muskrat move into their old home when the ice gets too thick in the Smiling Pool. Jerry, bored with eating and sleeping, decides to have an adventure and "chases" Farmer Brown's boy away.

February 19 to February 26. Spooky the Screech Owl ends up in Farmer Brown's fireplace again.

February 27 to March 11. Hooty the Owl, desperate with hunger because of a sore foot (porcupine quill), tries to catch a hen but is stopped by Farmer Brown's boy.

March 12 to March 16. Peter Rabbit is surprised to find Winsome and Mrs. Winsome bluebirds in the cedar swamp during the winter.

March 18 to March 22. Peter Rabbit learns that mourning cloak butterflies make a buzzing sound. 

March 25 to April 13. The beavers must work quickly and carefully (Old Man Coyote) to fix a break in the dam.  (Retold in At Paddy the Beaver's Pond).

April 15 to April 22. After Mrs. Honker is injured by a hunter, Honker the Goose must decide whether to stay with her or move on with his flock. (Reprinted in At Paddy the Beaver's Pond)

April 23 to April 27. Peter and Mrs. Peter communicate with each other through thumping. Meanwhile Mrs. Peter finds a rival rabbit to be dreamy.

April 29 to May 6. Old Mr. Toad has adventures on the way to the Smiling Pool.

May 7 to May 30. Peter Rabbit listens to the songs of the thrushes. Then he meets Solly the Solitary Sandpiper and is amazed by Teeter the Sandpiper's precocious children (and also Teeter's diving ability).

May 31 to June 4. Grandfather Frog escapes from Longlegs the Heron. Then he regrets trying to eat a stag beetle.

June 5 to July 9. The adventures of Little Squeak the Meadow Mouse. He hangs out with Old Mr. Toad under the board, learns about the folks at the Smiling Pool, and avoids Hooty the Owl and Reddy the Fox. Reddy Fox and Johnny Chuck talk about the value of predators in controlling the population of meadow mice.

July 10 to July 11. Sammy Jay fights off Black Pussy, who is looking for young robins.

July 12 to July 20. Mrs. Grouse proves to be too much work for a young fox.

July 22 to July 25. Mrs. Peter Rabbit hides her babies from predators (including Jimmy Skunk).

July 26 to August 2. Mrs. Sweetvoice the Vesper Sparrow makes her nest in a cow footprint covered by ferns.

August 3 to August 13. Sally Sly lays her egg in a red-eyed vireo nest. The bird neighbors are disgusted.

August 14 to August 20. Mrs. Happy Jack fights off Mr. Blacksnake.

August 21 to September 21. Chucky and Wobblenose (Johnny Chuck's and Peter Rabbit's grandsons) have an adventure after Farmer Brown's boy (protecting his garden) relocates them to the Old Pasture. [Tommy admits to a hunter friend that he would have had to shoot them had they continued to be pests]. Wobblenose must determine whether Reddy Fox is friend or foe.

September 23 to October 5. Peter Rabbit learns about Cousin Egret the White Heron [he speaks with a Southern accent] and Li'l Blue (the Little Blue Heron). 

October 7 to October 12. Peter Rabbit learns about Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows.

October 14 to October 21. Mrs. Quack wonders if ducks have a future. Old Pintail, whose mate had been shot, asserts that ducks need more refuges. Meanwhile a thoughtful duck hunter refutes the arguments of his "thoughtless" friend. 

October 22 to November 6. Jerry Muskrat has one way of opening clams; Blacky the Crow has another.

November 7 to November 9. Rattles the Kingfisher shows Peter Rabbit the specialized toes he uses to dig.

November 11 to November 12. Reddy Fox and Blacky the Crow talk about the great feast they have during hunting season.

November 13 to November 21. Slowpoke the Box Turtle gets ready for winter.

November 22 to November 25. Peter Rabbit wonders what wasps do during the winter.

November 26 to December 3. Striped Chipmunk and Happy Jack Squirrel narrowly avoid Shadow the Weasel. Shadow decides not to attack Spooky the Screech Owl.

December 4 to December 7. Prickly Porky cuts more food than he eats but other animals benefit from it. 

December 9 to December 12. Happy Jack's food supply is trapped in the frozen ground.

December 13 to December 23. Farmer Brown's boy tries to rescue four young grouse caught under the ice crust. Only three survive.

December 24. Downy Woodpecker eats insect eggs in the Old Orchard.

December 25. "The Little Good Will Tree" [Unread. Many newspapers did not publish on Christmas.]

December 26 to December 31. Paddy the Beaver watches playful Little Joe Otter with suspicion. (Partially reprinted in At Paddy the Beaver's Pond).


1946 represented another "familiar" year for Burgess stories. It is perhaps most notable for a shift in Burgess's attitude toward hunting, which had started in 1945 with the deer-hunting-prevents-overpopulation story. In 1946 there were two additional stories that modified the hard anti-hunting position that Burgess had asserted earlier in the 1940s. In one story, Tommy Brown, chatting with a friend who happened to be a hunter, admitted that human needs came first--that a rabbit or a woodchuck who became a pest in the garden might have to be shot if non-lethal methods failed. This was not technically a change in Burgess's beliefs. Indeed in Radio Nature League scripts he had explicitly allowed for the elimination of individual animals as long as the entire species was not targeted. To have Farmer Brown's boy admit such in a story, however, was different.

 The second story, which followed a longer (and familiar) grievance by Mrs. Quack and an old Pintail, featured a "thoughtless" hunter complaining about the decline in duck numbers and about new regulations banning certain hunting practices and lowering bag limits. His companion, a "thoughtful" hunter, scolded him, explaining that his attitude would eventually lead to the end of duck hunting altogether. The fact that Burgess would actually represent a hunter character (who had already killed several ducks in the story) in a positive light is a definite shift from his earlier condemnation of recreational hunting, but may also be a rhetorical strategy--a way to modify hunters' attitudes without risking alienating them.  Burgess's unwavering support of William Hornaday (who had died in 1937) had apparently lost him many friends in the hunting community. 

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