Month: July 2012

win a free pair of bookmarks! with a watery theme
all you have to do is leave a comment
be sure there\’s an email where I can reach you
winner drawn at random a week from now

I guess these caught my eye because I\’ve been spending lots of time with the kids at the pool, in the hot hot weather. The smaller one has a man diving into the blue on one side, a sailboat on the ocean al reverse. The larger bookmark has the line on the bottom of a pool lane, and ripples on the water on its opposite side. I think they\’re quite attractive! Laminated, handmade from magazine scraps, by yours truly.

click on either image to view larger

by Mike Dunning

For a counting book, this one is fairly simple. Each page just pictures the objects and numbers in order: one puppy, three cupcakes, four lizards, up to ten toy soldiers. But it\’s got some subtle things going on, as well. Most of the pictures have elements that match the numbers as well. For example, on the cupcake page, each cupcake has three decorative elements in the frosting. Each lizard on the 4 page has four feet. The starfish on the 5 page all have five arms (some can have up to forty or fifty, you know), the bugs on the 6 page all have six legs, and spiders demonstrate the number 8. It\’s a nice little touch. Another thing that makes this book a bit different is that the page margins have tabs that stick out with the numbers running down the side, so when you close the book you see all the numbers vertically on the right margin. It makes the page edges change shape, which I imagine might help keep interest when little minds wander… (currently my baby won\’t sit still through four or five pages, even if she brings you the book repeatedly!)

rating: 4/5 ……. 10 pages, 1995

added to my TBR list this past week or so, thanks to you wonderful bloggers!

The Bond by Wayne Pacelle- Bookfoolery and Babble
Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman
Euphemania by Ralph Keyes- At Home with Books 
Wildlives by Monique Proulx – The Indextrious Reader
The Cove by Ron Rash- Bermudaonion\’s Weblog
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman- The Lost Entwife
The Woman Reader by Belinda Jack- Things Mean a Lot
Keep Holding On by Susane Colasante – Melody\’s Reading Corner
Me, Who Dove into the Heart of the World by Sabina Berman – At Home with Books

by Thornton W. Burgess

Love and conflict seem to be the main themes of this book. Well, when it opens we really just get treated to a little lesson about how deer grow and shed their antlers, as Lightfoot explains it to the ever-curious Peter Rabbit. In the next part of the story, Lightfoot is pursued by a hunter and uses all his skills and cunning to stay out of the hunter\’s sight. Finally he is exhausted by the stress of constantly being followed in fear of his life, and escapes across the river where he finds a safe haven. He stays hidden until the hunting season is over. At home the other animals worry that Lightfoot has finally met his end, but then he returns. He is welcomed home, and quite relieved that the hunting season is over. Then Lightfoot discovers another deer has come into his forest; he follows a female about then meets a rival male, has a fight, and wins his wife. The story ends rather abruptly with Lightfoot showing off to his new companion, then suddenly makes mention of Blacky the Crow needing his story told. Not quite as smooth as the stories usually end. I also found it curious that all the animals seem to love Lightfoot the deer, it was often said the forest would never be the same if he were gone, and yet I\’ve hardly met him at all before in the pages of Burgess\’ stories.

Read this one on my kindle.

rating: 3/5 …….. 72 pages, 1921

by Thornton W. Burgess

More than any other Burgess book I\’ve read, this one is about relationships. Old Granny Fox and the young Reddy are having a tough time finding food in the winter. Reddy Fox is quite the know-it-all and even mocks the older fox when he doesn\’t understand what she\’s doing but Granny is remarkably patient and shows him that he still has a lot to learn. Reddy despairs that they can\’t find any food in the snow. Granny shows him how to perform for ducks and take the farm dog\’s dinner, but when they\’ve exhausted every other means of getting food they resort to stealing hens. She makes quite a point out of the fact that the foxes only take the hens because they\’re starving so that\’s okay even though it\’s stealing; the humans have plenty of food so they can spare a few chickens. The raid on the chicken coop is a big event in the book; even here Reddy is overeager and Granny Fox must teach him to be patient, to wait until it\’s perfectly safe, to stay away afterwards so they have a chance to get hens again at a later date. However most of the story seemed to be about lessons on respecting your elders and having a willingness to learn. It even seems that things have finally sunk in for Reddy Fox; at one point he finds a fish to eat and even though he\’s starving he thinks of Granny Fox waiting at home, unable to hunt for herself and he takes the food back to her. It was a wonderful change of heart for him, this feisty little fox who usually only thinks of himself.

Rating: 3/5 …….. 202 pages, 1920

by Thornton W. Burgess

Jimmy Skunk is one of those animals in the forest who doesn\’t have many worries, as everyone is afraid of his terrible smell and goes out of their way to avoid bothering him. When Peter Rabbit finds the skunk sleeping in an old barrel, he thinks he\’s found a perfect opportunity to play a prank on Jimmy without anyone knowing who did it. Peter contrives to get the skunk in trouble with Reddy Fox, but finds the aftermath of his prank puts himself in a very uncomfortable situation. So he learns his lesson. And Jimmy makes a point of coming back to chastise Peter for instigating the trouble between him and the fox, when he finds out who was really responsible. The second half of the book tells of Jimmy Skunk and Unc\’ Billy Possum getting themselves into the farmer\’s henhouse where they are annoyed to discover the eggs have already been gathered. So they end up squabbling with each other, and are caught when the farmer\’s boy comes in the morning to feed the chickens. Jimmy Skunk has no fear of the farmer\’s boy and just marches out of the henhouse when he opens the door; the possum plays his trick of being dead but the boy isn\’t fooled. The boy has been particularly good-natured towards the animals in these last few stories; here he simply lets the possum go after showing it off to both his hound dog and his mother.

Rating: 3/5 …….. 87 pages, 1918

by Thornton W. Burgess 

Another little Burgess book, which tells about some hard times for a raccoon. Bobby Coon is snoozing in his hole in a tree one day when disaster strikes and his home is destroyed. Not only that, but he gets injured and is terrified when the farmer\’s boy catches him and ties him down. The boy means no harm and is only treating his injuries but Bobby doesn\’t know that. He pines away while confined and is relieved to be released at last. Now homeless, he wanders around in search of a place to rest. He tries several times to appropriate other animals\’ homes, but of course is pushed out and must move on. Then he finds a hollow stump to sleep in, but his rest is rudely interrupted by some noisy crows and a visit from Buster Bear. Finally he finds a place that seems both dry, safe and unoccupied. He\’s dismayed at who his new neighbors are, though! What stood out in the book this time wasn\’t the little lessons on being fair and so forth, but the very nature of Bobby Coon. Whenever cornered or feeling threatened, he would growl and snarl and try his best to look fierce. I could just picture a real coon acting like that!

 Rating: 3/5 ……..76 pages, 1918

by Amy Stewart

I think this is the first time ever that I\’ve read a book immediately upon receiving it. I got a copy of this through Paperback Swap, and when it arrived starting thumbing through it curiously to see what it was like. But then instead of putting it on my TBR shelf where most books sit for weeks, months, even years, I set aside my current read to immerse myself in this one.

It was delightful. Amy Stewart tells about living in a small beachside town and growing her first garden, with all the discoveries that entails. Parts are about the weather, the neighbors, the summer influx of tourists. But mostly it\’s about the garden: how she learned to feed her soil, how she moved from just growing pretty flowers into vegetables, how she picked up ideas from touring estates with beautiful manicured gardens. I appreciate that gardeners seem unashamed of writing and telling the world about their mistakes, and really you can learn a lot from that. I\’ve made many of the same ones she has, like not testing my soil (still guilty of that). She discusses composting (both the traditional kind and also with worms), design, battles with bugs, the contoversy of cats in the garden. Growing tomatoes, oranges and basil. The thrills of saving your own seed, and collecting seed from others. Her disinterest in houseplants until she discovered orchids. The satisfaction of eating your homegrown produce, and finally the delightful problem of having surplus vegetables on your hands when the garden is finally in full swing.

It was a wonderful read that made me feel guilty for not being fully invested in my garden this year- mine\’s rather shabby as I\’m kept busy with a toddler just learning to walk. I just can\’t quite focus as much but Stewart reminded me of so much I want to do better with next year.

Rating: 4/5 …….. 261 pages, 2001

more opinions:
Stay At Home Bookworm
Who Needs Gauge
Life on Two Acres

by Gloria G. Schlaepfer

This juvenile non-fiction book about hyenas is a lot more detailed and fact-filled than the previous one. It doesn\’t create a narrative, but is just as easy to read. Geared towards older kids, I\’d say. The book not only discusses hyenas\’ roles as scavengers, but also their social structure, how they raise their young, and threats to their survival (mostly due to people unreasonably fearing or hating them). In actuality, the book informs young readers, most hyenas hunt for themselves and only the smaller less abundant brown and striped hyenas are mainly scavengers. The aardwolf eats termites. I haven\’t seen many books that talk about the aardwolf; I don\’t think I was even aware they belong to the hyena family before. It was nice to see a very informative book that includes the less well-known species.

Rating: 4/5 …….. 48 pages, 2011

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


All books reviewed on this site are owned by me, or borrowed from the public library. Exceptions are a very occasional review copy sent to me by a publisher or author, as noted. Receiving a book does not influence my opinion or evaluation of it


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