Aug 27, 2013

The Adventures of Sammy Jay

by Thornton W. Burgess

I thought for sure when I picked up this Bedtime Storybook that it was the one I recall my father introducing me to long ago. I have a distinct memory of a large book (borrowed from the library, I think) that had a collection of stories about forest animals, with lovely illustrations. And I do remember something about a squirrel and a corn-crib, but I thought the squirrel was stuck or trapped inside the corn-crib. The story turned out to be a little different from my memory.

It's a little tale of greed and blackmail, and survival for the animals of course. The gist of it is that Chatterer the squirrel is trying to store up food for winter, but has been displaced from his home in fear of a weasel, his mortal enemy. Sammy Jay, always looking for trouble, tells Chatterer where he can get all the corn he wants- from the farmer's supply stored in his corn-crib. The squirrel finds the corn and starts stocking up for winter but then plays a trick on Sammy to scare the jaybird away, wanting all the corn for himself. Neither is really entitled to the corn, they're both stealing from the farmer. But they squabble over it regardless, and the jay forces the squirrel to do what he wants by threatening to tell the weasel where he lives, unless Chatterer fetches corn for him whenever he wants it. So it ends with both animals trying to "get even" and each thinking of ways to outwit the other. Reddy the fox gets involved as well, and I met a new character I hadn't seen in previous books, the black farm cat. It is pointed out that the cat hunts for sport, not because she needs food, and so all the smaller animals hate her whereas they fear the fox and other forest predators but not in the same manner.

All in all there were some interesting little dynamics in the story, and by the end of it a few animals had learned their lessons. But I am sure they will get up to further mischief in tales to come! I enjoyed this just as much as all the other Burgess books. Still looking for more to add to my collection!

Rating: 3/5 ........ 119 pages, 1964

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