Jul 12, 2012

The Adventures of Jerry Muskrat

by Thornton W. Burgess

It completely escaped my attention that I hadn't written about this book, which I read some weeks if not months ago, until I searched for my post to link to from Paddy the Beaver, and couldn't find it! So I'm amending that omission now.

This little book has two main storylines, both featuring Jerry Muskrat. In the first part, Jerry gets his tail pinched in a trap the farmer's boy left near the pond. His mother had warned him about traps, but he was careless. Soon the animals discover many traps and Grandfather Frog teaches them how to find the traps and avoid or spring them so they can stay safe (which greatly puzzles the farmer's boy). They are all duly warned not to take food they find lying around where it usually isn't, especially very delicious food, as it is often a trap. Some of them have to get hurt before they really learn to be cautious.

In the second half of the book, the animals discover that the pool of water that makes their home is shrinking. Alarmed, several of them set off on a journey upstream to find out what the trouble is. Among them is Spotty the Turtle, and here the tale echoes the old Aesop's fable of the tortise and the hare. The other animals get distracted along the journey and stop for one reason or another, but Spotty just keeps plodding along so even though he's the slowest, he is the first to reach the source of trouble and find out what it is.

Now the animals meet Paddy the Beaver and they are all intimidated his great size and the massive dam he's built. They want Jerry Muskrat to talk to Paddy about the problems he's causing; they figure the beaver might listen to Jerry since he's Paddy's little cousin. Jerry is nervous at first, but he gets his courage up to approach Paddy and finds that the beaver is a nice guy after all. A solution to the problem is found, but it's quite different to the one presented in another book about Paddy the Beaver!

Rating: 3/5 ........ 90 pages, 1914

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