by Thornton W. Burgess
The Adventures of Jerry Muskrat,
is a newcomer to the forest who keeps to himself. But all the other
creatures soon know he's there and come to see him, as his activities
influence them all. The first thing he does upon deciding to live in
their forest is, of course, build a dam. Which reduces the spring to a
trickle and the pond to a puddle and the other animals are
understandably upset. Paddy assures the others that once his dam is
finished, the stream and pond will fill with water again. And they do:
when the pond is at the depth he wants, the water flows over it and runs
down the brook again. The other creatures are satisfied and come to
visit Paddy. Some are quite critical of his apparent destruction in
cutting down trees; others of his building methods, until they see the
finished product and are properly impressed. Paddy is a nice fellow. He
keeps his opinions to himself, is always pleasant to others and even
flatters the annoying blue jay who then proves himself to be a staunch
friend instead of a pest like he is to most critters.
What took me aback was how the story differs from the scenario presented in Jerry Muskrat.
In that story the stream had also died to a trickle, several animals
traveled to its source to find the problem, and discovered Paddy
building a dam. They complained about how he was ruining their homes
downstream and so the beaver reconsidered, tore out his dam and moved
somewhere else. As Burgess frequently makes mention of previous
storylines in his books, linking them all together, again
I'm not quite sure why this one is different. Did he want to change the
beaver story, give it an alternate possibility? did he simply forget
that the scenario was a little different before? Hm.
all his other nature books for children, Burgess has infused this one
with some good lessons. Here he makes a case for the merits of hard
work, good planning, not making quick judgements on first impressions,
trusting one's friends, teamwork and the wisdom of often keeping your
opinions to yourself.
Rating: 3/5 ........ 180 pages, 1917