Friday, April 29, 2011

Beatrix Potter Review of Book Thirteen: The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse

Name of Book: The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse
Author/Illustrator: By Beatrix Potter
What It's All About: This book seems to be again mistakenly named for it is not really about Johnny Town-Mouse but about Timmy Willie the country mouse.  Timmy Willie accidentally goes to town in a hamper of vegetables and, though he is entertained by the smart town-mice, he longs for  the quiet of the country.  He returns to the country and long after Johnny comes to visit him but cannot stay there for the country does not suit him just as the town did not suit Timmy.  The last page has a little saying that some are happy here and some there but Ms. Potter seems happiest in the country like Timmy.  
My Favorite Bit: My favorite must be the page with the younger mice who are serving the older mice their meals and laughing as they are chased by the cat...little daredevils.  There are several lovely things about this story and all the pictures of the two kinds of mice, one set so dapper and the other so cuddly and plain, that I cannot decide on one picture completely.  I will give you one of my favorites and you can go on to choose your own.  I do love page fifty five where Timmy is explaining to Johnny how much he will love the countryside.  

Suitable Age For Reading It To: This book can be read to all, it is just a nice little story.  You can feel sorry for little Timmy as he is so frightened by all the new sounds and troubles in town but rest assured the end of the story will find him safe and happy back in the countryside where he belongs.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Beatrix Potter Review of Book Twelve: The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes

Name of Book: The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes
Author/Illustrator: By Beatrix Potter
What It's All About: I must say that Timmy Tiptoes is a very unlucky grey squirrel.  I believe we sometimes must confuse him with Squirrel Nutkin (who did deserve to lose his tail, but that is another story).  Poor Timmy Tiptoes is wrongfully accused of stealing nuts by a little bird who sings, "who's been digging up my nuts?" The other squirrels hurt Timmy and push him through a hole in a tree.  He lands on a pile of his own nuts and cannot move.  His wife Goody cannot find him.  Timmy is taken care of by a little chipmunk by the name of Chippy Hackee, who feeds him nuts until he is so fat he cannot get out of the tree.  A great storm comes along and breaks the tree in half and Timmy Tiptoes can go home to his wife.  Ever after they shoo away any little birds who come into their forest singing, "who's been digging up my nuts?"
My Favorite Bit: I very much enjoy the little songs the birds sing because my mother sang them herself as we now do with our children and the stories continue.  I also love the page where Chippy Hackee tucks Timmy Tiptoes into a bed of moss to care for him until he is well.

Suitable Age For Reading It To: I would wait to read this to a very small child as it is quite traumatic for poor Timmy to be so handled by the other squirrels.  It is also a bit longer than the other stories, with at least a paragraph on each page to which a smaller child may grow restless.  Save this one for older than five-ers. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Beatrix Potter Review of Book Eleven: The Tale Of Mrs. Tittlemouse

Name of Book: The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse
Author/Illustrator: By Beatrix Potter
What's It All About: Mrs. Tittlemouse keeps a very tidy house indeed.  It is too bad there are so many uninvited guests: bees, spiders, butterflies, creepy crawlies, and even a Toad! Mrs. Tittlemouse is beside herself because she cannot keep the house clean.  Who should come calling because they have smelled the honey of the bees but Mr. Toad who treads water all across Mrs. Tittlemouse's clean floors.  Will she ever be rid of them all?
My Favorite Bit: I'm afraid that despite a very cute little mouse in a dress, I do not care much for this story.  There are quite a few creepy crawlies in her house and I shiver every time I pass the page with the spider all curled up.  I do enjoy the end when Mrs. Tittlemouse has finally cleaned her house and hosts a party for other smartly dressed mice, so this shall have to be my favorite bit.

Suitable Age For Reading It To: This can be for all children but I would stay away from anyone who is squeemish about bugs or uninvited guests. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Beatrix Potter Book Review of Book Ten: The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies

Name of Book: The Tale Of The Flopsy Bunnies
Author/Illustrator: By Beatrix Potter
What It's All About: Benjamin Bunny has married Peter's sister Flopsy and they have a whole little nest of bunnies of their very own.  They do not have much to eat as there are so many mouths to feed and so sometimes they take a walk down to Mr. McGregor's garden dump and search for food.  One day they find a whole barrel of lettuces (which apparently have a soporific effect on bunnies), and after eating the lettuces they fall fast asleep.  Who should come upon them while they dream but Mr. McGregor?  Don't worry, with the help of Mrs. Thomasina Tittlemouse and Benjamin Bunny himself, the bunnies won't get into too much trouble.
My Favorite Bit: Oh, there are so many! This book is full of just lovely little bunny illustrations.  I can't go and name each page as the best, but I really have a soft spot for page 29 where the little bunny ears are sticking out of the grass.  I also have a longing to hold a baby bunny just as Mr. McGregor does on the next page, though perhaps I wouldn't be putting 'one, two, three, four, five, siix leetle rabbits' into a sack.
Suitable Age For Reading It To: This story is a delight for all ages.  I want to read it again just writing this sentence.  Each page contains so much of what little bunnies are, and it is a joy to turn to the next illustration and see what they're up to.  I would forgive you for the faux pas of buying this one first as you amass this collection.  It is simply perfect.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Beatrix Potter Review of Book Nine: The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck

Name Of Book: The Tale Of Jemima Puddleduck
Author/Illustrator: By Beatrix Potter
What It's All About: Jemima Puddleduck would like to hatch her own eggs.  She leaves the farm to find a place to nest where she won't be disturbed.  Along the road in the forest she runs into a very elegantly dressed gentleman who listens to her woes about egg hatching and very graciously offers her his summer home.  Should it disconcert Jemima that the gentleman seems rather too interested in her and her eggs, or that his whiskers are so very long, or that his tale is quite bushy? I suppose a simple puddle duck should not be concerned with these things.
My Favorite Bit: On page 23 Jemima sees an elegantly dressed gentleman reading a newspaper.  Only the tips of his ears are showing over the paper and he is sitting on his tail on the stump as it is a little damp.  This fox is a dapper fellow.
Suitable Age For Reading It To: This story is rather bittersweet and too realistic for little ones in my opinion.  First off, Jemima is a rather silly duck.  She nests in feathers that are obviously the gruesome tale of what the fox does with other guests.  Secondly, when the hounds come to help chase out the fox they end up eating her eggs and she is very sad.  Thirdly, when she does get to sit on her own eggs at the end, only four hatch because she is not a good sitter.  All in all there are a few rather sad points to this story and though it ends all right, it doesn't end with a laugh and a smile.  I'd leave this one to older children.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Beatrix Potter Review of Book Eight: The Tale of Tom Kitten

Name of Book: The Tale of Tom Kitten
Author/Illustrator: By Beatrix Potter
What It's All About: Mrs. Tabitha Twitchit is having friends to tea and she wants her kittens to be dressed for the occasion.  Mittens, Moppet, and Tom, so they were named, were put into the garden in their little outfits but they couldn't manage to keep them clean or on.  Three ducks waddling down the path, whose names are Jemima, Rebecca, and Mr. Drake, take the clothes themselves and wander off to their pond, much to the delight of the kittens.  Mrs. Tabitha Twitchit must deal with her kittens and the Puddle Ducks must deal with trying to swim in dress clothes. 
My Favorite Bit: I'm sorry to say my favorite bit must be the Puddle Ducks going back to the pond and the clothes coming off in the water.  I also enjoy the idea that they are bobbing for the buttons ever after in the pond.
Suitable Age For Reading It To: To be honest (and this is strictly my opinion), I've never found this story very interesting.  It is entitled The Tale of Tom Kitten but I suspect that Potter, like me, became more interested in the Puddle Ducks and forgot about Tom almost entirely, which is why she went on to write about Jemima in her next story.  You can read this to any age child but I think the idea of kittens disposing of uncomfortable dress clothes and giving them to the ducks is mostly funny to the parent reading the story.  However, I can be and very often am wrong so you may find this to be a favorite and read it to all children.  The illustrated kittens are not quite as cuddly and the ducks are far more elegant, if a duck can be elegant.  In any case, that is my opinion.

Original Tale: Lucie Owl


If I had a little owl
Of my very very own
I'd make a smallish nest with bows
That she could call her home
I'd put a bow upon her head
And kiss her cheek as well
I'd be the proudest little friend
And she'd be Lucie Belle

When Lucie Belle is hungry
I make a plate of leaves
I open up a flower bag
And give her owly seeds

These seeds are very special
You can't buy them in a store
A fairy sells them in a shop
At tree trunk's bottom floor

Written and Illustrated by R. Nigh
Dedicated to Rebekah Malone

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Beatrix Potter Book Review of Book Seven: The Tale Of Mr. Jeremy Fisher

Name of Book: The Tale Of Mr. Jeremy Fisher
Author/Illustrator: By Beatrix Potter
What It's All About: Mr. Jeremy Fisher, a frog of dapper clothing, goes fishing in the pond for minnows with which to feed his friends Sir Isaac Newton and Mr. Alderman Ptolemy Tortoise.  He has a bad day fishing and is almost swallowed by a trout, saved only by the fact that the trout disliked the taste of Jeremy's galoshes. 
My Favorite Bit: There is much to this story that I love.  First of all, all the animals names in this are simply perfect.  If I ever own a newt I will certainly name it Sir Isaac Newton.  Second of all, I love almost every painting on every page.  I love the little minnows who laugh at Jeremy, I love the different poses Jeremy is in, especially when he climbs out of the pond onto the bank like a proper frog, but I think my favorite illustration has to be the page at the end where Mr. Jeremy meets up with Sir Isaac Newton who is wearing his 'black and gold waistcoat' and has his hands behind his back like my nephew Layne is wont to do. 
Suitable Age For Reading To: This is a story for a little older child such as five-ish, though smaller children will love the illustrations.  The story seems a bit posh with the animals' titles and the language and so I must say that though all will love it, older children will understand it a little better.  Go and settle down with Mr. Jeremy Fisher, he is waiting in the rain on a lily pad somewhere.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Original Tale: Owlyoops!


There's a nice big tree just down our little lane
And I think it has become a sort of Inn
There are many little branches and many little spots
For sleepy little owlish gentlemen

Jeremy George has a tummy of orange
Horace and Benjamin sleep right below
Franklin B. Wriggle nests right in the middle
The man with the pocket watch, I don't really know

The top branch's reserved for little old Hermes
Bob and Bob-Foo are on branch thirty-two
But oh, little David Von Snookery Bean
Has the worst roosting instincts that I've ever seen

Jasper has noticed that David is leaving
Not perhaps as dignified as he would like
You only need one eye to notice quite plainly
That Wallace Lee Henry might soon catch a yikes!

Written and Illustrated by R. Nigh

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Beatrix Potter Review of Book Six: The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle


Name of Book: The Tale Of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle
Author/Illustrator: By Beatrix Potter
What It's All About: Lucie has lost three handkins and a pinny (three handkerchiefs and a pinnafore) and what shall she do? She sees something on the hillside above the town and goes to investigate.  Nestled into the hill next to a stream is a little wooden door! She enters and finds Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, a washer woman who looks surprisingly like a hedgehog.  Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle cleans all the animals clothing, including Cock Robin's red waistcoat and the fluffy little lambs' wooly coats.  She has even cleaned Lucie's handkins and pinny. 
My Favorite Bit: I enjoy the page 51 where Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle is walking along the path with Lucie behind her, handing out the cleaned clothing to various animals.  On this page Peter and Benjamin rabbit are peeking out of the hedge and accepting their red handkerchief that has been cleaned for smelling of onions. 
Suitable Age For Reading To: This one is one of the slower pieces in my opinion.  I don't think children really know who a washerwoman is, that profession being something of an older one, and I am not sure the children will find this one particularly stimulating on a first read.  It seems destined for older children who lose things or adults who can look fondly on Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and her washing and hope that it wasn't just a dream of Lucie's. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Beatrix Potter Review of Book Five: The Tale Of Two Bad Mice

Name of book: The Tale Of Two Bad Mice
Author  / Illustrator: By Beatrix Potter
What's It All About: Lucinda and Jane live in a real house with red brick, muslin curtains in the windows, a front door and a chimney.  They do not say much.  They do not say anything.  Lucinda and Jane are dolls and they live in a lovely little dollhouse.  When they are taken out, two little mice decide to visit.   They find lovely food on the dining room table but when it is discovered that the food is not real, they destroy the house and steal from the dolls.  What bad little mice! The dolls' owner says she will buy a policeman doll.  The nurse says she will set a mousetrap.  But the two little mice, Tom Thumb and his wife Hunca Munca are not really such bad mice.  They take care of the dollhouse after everyone has gone to sleep.
My Favorite Bit: Besides the fact that the little mouse is named Hunca Munca and that Lucinda and Jane never seem to say much about what's going on, I love the page with Tom Thumb sticking his head out of the soot-less chimney while Hunca Munca looks out the window below. 
Suitable Age For Reading It To: Again, this story is for everyone.  I love the detail that Potter brings to her books and this one is no exception.  She understands what children love--the wording, the exquisite tiny portraits of the little beautiful foods for the dining room that do not come off their plates--these are all just perfect.  Another classic!

And how could rodents as cute as these really be so bad?