May 25, 2012

The Adventures of Reddy Fox

by Thornton W. Burgess 

I'm enjoying delving once again into a little collection of Thornton Burgess that is gathering on my shelves (and in my kindle). This one is about a young fox who gets himself into trouble. Reddy thinks he's so clever he starts showing off and of course he goes too far. He steals one of the farmer boy's pet hens and the boy comes after him with his hound, determined to catch the fox. Reddy tries to evade him but fails and Granny Fox has to step in and save him. Unfortunately, because of how Reddy's actions endangered them, the foxes have to move from their home. The other animals in the forest are aware of what's going on. When they see Reddy get hurt, many of them say he well deserved it, and were even glad. But some felt sympathy for him (in spite of the fact that Reddy had often tried to catch and eat them for breakfast!) and a few took pity on him and helped him out. It was a great example of showing compassion to your enemies.

I've noticed there's a broad character arc happening throughout the entire series with Farmer Brown's Boy. In this book, one of the earliest ones, he's sneaking through the forest with full intent to shoot the fox, the birds screaming in alarm at his presence. In one of the later books, he's obviously a friend of all the animals, and the resident creatures try hard to persuade newcomers that he's perfectly safe and harmless. I wonder in which book he has the change of heart. It was sort of apparent in the one about the squirrel, but didn't seem entire yet. So I've been trying to read them in order, as far as that's possible. I only have about half the books and very few are at my library, so I search whenever I go to a used bookstore, trying to complete the collection on hand. Burgess published several a year (they're short) so just looking at the list of works on wikipedia doesn't quite do it- they're a bit out of order. But the author himself left clues: at the end of nearly every story he mentions an animal character and announces that the next book will be all about him. So you can line them up in order and get the events chronologically throughout the entire series. Except, as noted, I only have half of them so there's gaps. Well, that just makes reading these all a bit more interesting!

Rating: 3/5 .......86 pages, 1913

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