Monday, December 24, 2012

Presenting A New Burgess Bedtime Stories Book

The Adventures of Rusty the Fox Squirrel

This book compiles "Burgess Bedtime Stories" from November 1, 1920 to December 16, 1920. I consider it one of Thornton W. Burgess's "lost books." While I have no evidence that he intended to publish it as a separate book, Burgess wrote it as a continuous narrative and although it contains familiar elements (Farmer Brown's boy takes care of a wounded animal, squirrels compete over nuts) I think it stands together as something new. Burgess's storytelling is top-notch throughout.

To parents who might want to read this to their children a few notes are in order. First, as in other Burgess books from this era (The Adventures of Poor Mrs. Quack and The Adventures of Bob White come to mind) there is a scene of violence involving a hunter and a gun. Second, Farmer Brown's boy's behavior in reaction to the hunter, while showing his deep commitment to the rights of his animal friends, is probably not something some parents would want their children to imitate. Finally, Burgess tells the story slowly, with a lot of recapitulation (these stories were serialized in newspapers), and the occasional archaic sentence construction. This is something I now appreciate, but the attention of smaller children will sometimes wander.

I've tried to keep my editing to a minimum. The design is based on the earliest Burgess Bedtime Story books, which were, limited by the printing technology of the day, probably not laid out for optimum readability. At some point in the future I will likely explore other book designs, as well as ebooks. The original is in an InDesign file, so I am also pursuing the possibility of actual printing (to be distributed via an "abandoned art" model I've used before).

Please enjoy and distribute freely. While I've embedded the book above, I think the reading experience is better via the downloaded pdf.

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