Nov 25, 2014

Happy Jack

by Thornton W. Burgess

A story of a squirrel. It opens with the gray squirrel Happy Jack and the red Chatterer, quarreling over who claims the nuts of a hickory tree. While they are scolding and chasing each other around, a chipmunk advantageously gathers all the nuts they knock out of the tree! Then the chipmunk tricks one of the squirrels into raiding the other's stash of nuts, and the fracas continues. Eventually the chipmunk has a change of heart and invites the squirrels (plus a few other animals who happen by) to a little feast, where all is forgiven. Now Happy Jack has food for winter, but must search for a new home when the weasel threatens. At the same time the chickadee shows him where the farmer's boy is staying home in bed, gravely ill- his mother is putting nuts on the bedroom windowsill which tempts the birds to visit. The chickadee encourages Happy Jack to approach the window and even more daring, to feed from the boy's hand and eventually enter the room. It's really very well-presented, how fearful these forays must be from the squirrel's point of view. It turns out that Happy Jack's trust in the farmer boy saves him when the weasel comes hunting again, and the boy also tries to give him a new home. All is well in the end, the squirrels having learned not to be so greedy, and Happy Jack finding new trust and friendship. I did like one little touch that shows the farmer boy doesn't necessarily favor only the cute animals- he traps and removes the weasel, but releases it further off in the forest.

These stories never loose their appeal for me. I enjoy how they show the natural behavior of animals- the competition between the squirrel species, the predation by the weasel, their efforts to save food for winter and find shelter, all wrapped into a charming story about trust, friendship, hard work and generosity.

Rating: 3/5       140 pages, 1918

No comments: