Thursday, November 29, 2012

Burgess Bedtime Stories 1947

The Stories

(No images for the time being. I've exceeded my Google photo space.)

January 1. (continued from 1946) Little Joe Otter gets a whiff of man smell and leaves. (Reprinted in At Paddy the Beaver's Pond)

January 2 to January 6. Rabbits, hares, and grouse are adapted to snow in different ways.

January 7 to January 22. Winter is tough for Reddy Fox, as he hunts meadow mice, leads dogs away from Mrs. Reddy, and loses a stolen fish to a bald eagle. 

January 23 to February 3. Peter is surprised to find Kitty the Catbird overwintering. Kitty tells Peter about the rain forests in the tropics.

February 4 to February 24. Spike the young buck lords his antlers over his twin sister Daintyfoot but is dismayed when they fall off. Later Yowler the bobcat is tempted by the twins but contents himself using fallen antlers as bait for mice. Then Chatterer, who also wants the antlers, regrets using his voice when Yowler and Hooty the Owl come after him.

February 25 to March 11. An irruption brings evening and pine grosbeaks as well as crossbills to the Old Orchard. Tommy Tit is surprised to discover the crossbills are already nesting.

March 12 to March 22. Johnny Chuck has relatives large (marmot) and small (chipmunk). Flip the Terrier is surprised at Johnny Chuck's speed and climbing ability.

March 24 to March 29. Peter Rabbit is surprised to learn that Whitefoot the Wood Mouse is the mysterious singer.

March 31 to April 19. After the Yellow Wings (flickers) lose their nest cavity in the telephone pole to the Kestrels, they excavate a new home. Later Yellow Wing compares his tongue to that of Old Mr. Toad.

April 21 to May 10. The Wood Ducks move into a home installed by Farmer Brown's boy but find their eggs constantly threatened by Chatterer the Red Squirrel. Farmer Brown's boy takes their eggs (to be raised by Little Mrs. Bantam) and squirrel-proofs the box. 

May 12 to May 13. Happy Jack's breakfast of maple buds benefits the evening grosbeaks, who lick sap from the broken twigs.

May 14 to May 23. Peter Rabbit inadvertently leads Reddy Fox to the Woodcocks' nest. Farmer Brown's boy intervenes to stop Reddy.

May 24 to June 12. Mrs. Jimmy Skunk and Mrs. Jerry Muskrat compare child-rearing responsibilities. The baby muskrats must learn about dangers in the Smiling Pool, especially snapping turtles. Then raccoons and skunks feast on snapping turtle eggs.

June 13 to June 17. Peter learns about the Tumblebugs.

June 18 to July 16. A variety of swallows arrive, each with different ideas about building homes. Twitter the Purple Martin chases off Sharpshin the Hawk. Farmer Brown's boy provides mud for the barn swallows. And young bank swallows must learn the hard way where to best position their holes. Meanwhile Farmer Brown's boy must decide whether he should kill the egg-stealing black snake and Jimmy Skunk feasts on black snake eggs. 

July 17 to August 1. Peter Rabbit learns about glass snakes, skinks, newts, and king snakes.

August 2 to August 20. New bears cubs have misadventures involving a rattlesnake, a honey tree, and a porcupine. Mother Bear is there to make sure things don't get out of hand.

August 21 to September 4. Quilly the young porcupine is dismayed to find he can't actually throw his quills. Then he makes a mess of the sugar house (attracted by salt) until he gets stuck in a potato bag.

September 5 to September 6. Peter Junior watches fireflies with his parents

September 8 to September 19. Polly Chuck is worried about Little Golden Coat, her blonde daughter, because she is too conspicuous. Aunt Sally and Reddy Fox take notice.

September 20 to September 30. Old Mr. Toad is up to familiar business, changing and eating his suit, using his lightning tongue, and encountering Bluffer the Adder. Farmer Brown's boy comes to the rescue and can't help teasing Bluffer.

October 1 to October 9. Farmer Brown's boy refuses to help a collector who wants a golden woodchuck skin for his museum. Later Polly Chuck shows Little Golden Coat how to trick Shadow the Weasel. And then abandons her.

October 10 to October 29. Peter Rabbit learns about sphinx moths, leaf-cutter bees, and tiny carpenter bees. 

October 30 to November 8. Buster Bear decides to go to sleep out in the open under the snow. 

November 10 to November 14. When a tree threatening storm approaches Mrs. Happy Jack must quickly move her babies.

November 15 to November 26. Muskrats raise children in an old beaver home. [A "true story."] Then young otters have fun learning to swim.

November 27 to December 6. Peter Rabbit continues to believe there are signs predicting a bad winter. Mrs. Rabbit disagrees.

December 8 to December 13. The beavers lock themselves in for the winter but the kits manage to get in one last (very short) adventure outside.

December 15 to December 24. Whitey the Snowy Owl is back, threatening Danny Meadow Mouse and competing with Reddy Fox for barnyard rats. Meanwhile it looks for a moment like Blacky the Crow has been caught by Whitey. 

December 25. "Blacky's Merry Christmas" [Unread. Many newspapers did not print Christmas issues.]

December 26 to December 27. Mother Brown wonders whether she is spoiling the birds by feeding them. She needn't worry.

December 29 to December 31. Snowflake the Snow Bunting tells stories about the folks who live in the frozen north. (continued in 1948)


Noteworthy in 1947 was a series of stories about "Little Golden Coat," a blonde woodchuck apparently based on a real-life animal. As in earlier Burgess stories about albino and melanistic "freaks," the young female woodchuck with the unique coat was ostracized by her fellows for being dangerously conspicuous. This time, however, Farmer Brown's boy did not take her home as a pet but instead protected her indirectly, posting a special "no trespassing" sign that was large enough to be seen from the highway.

The most significant threat to "Little Golden Coat," however, was not from hunters, but from the world of science:
One day a stranger appeared and introduced himself. He said he did some collecting for the Natural History Museum.  
"I have heard that you have an unusual Woodchuck on your place here. I should like to see it," said he. 
Farmer Brown's boy looked at him suspiciously. "Is that all you want, just to see it?" he asked. 
"Well, if it is really very unusual I should like to collect it for the museum to add to our collection of Woodchuck skins, or perhaps to mount if it is rare enough," said he. 
"Then I am afraid you can't see it," replied Farmer Brown's boy promptly.
There is a long history of naturalists getting a free pass when it comes to the killing ("collection") of animals for scientific purposes. (Burgess's hero Hornaday had been a master taxidermist). In this story Farmer Brown's boy refused to cooperate with those who want to make a rare thing "still more rare."

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