May 26, 2012

The Adventures of Mr. Mocker

by Thornton W. Burgess

Unlike the other Burgess books I've read so far, the titular character isn't really the center of the story until the end. Or rather, the mystery about him is what the story revolves around. Any astute reader will know right away what is confusing all the animals of the Green Forest when voices are heard while their owners are sound asleep or in other parts of the forest. Sammy Jay is accused of waking everyone at night with his screams, Sticky-Toes the tree frog is grumbled at for being noisy, and plenty of other animals think they hear their friends saying unkind things about them, until everyone is upset and hardly anybody will talk to anyone else. Except for the possum who plays a central role here as he is friends with the mockingbird who is fooling everyone with his voice. He carries things a bit too far and is afraid no one will want to be his friend after how he's tricked them, but Billy Possum makes amends and when he is finally introduced the other animals are so amazed by his beautiful song and voice skills that they are eager to forgive and get to know him.

The obvious message here is to not deceive your friends, but I also noticed that the story illustrates some good problem-solving. When Sammy Jay adamantly protests that he's not screaming in the night and nobody believes him, he simply moves away so that it's obvious he's not the source of trouble. It's not the first time Burgess has shown how the characters use logic to figure out things that puzzle them, but it stood out to me for some reason this time.

I read this one on my kindle.

Rating: 3/5 ......... 72 pages, 1914

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