by Thornton W. Burgess
I haven\’t read one of these little books in a while, so this was a fun diversion. Like all the other Burgess books, this one uses a story featuring talking animals who act pretty much like real wild animals, teaching about the natural behavior. This one features a muskrat who is busy building his home near the edge of the pond. The rabbit admires his work and scoffs at the effort, he would never go to all that trouble. The muskrat and other animals point out how wise it is to be prepared for winter. Soon the fox happens along, and he schemes how to get the muskrat to leave the water so he can catch and eat him. He pretends to admire the muskrat\’s house, flattering him and claiming he wants help to build his own house. When this ploy doesn\’t work, the fox tells the muskrat where he can find carrots at the edge of the farmer\’s garden. Both animals think they are out-smarting the other- the muskrat goes to the carrot patch alone, and figures out a way to reach the carrots without exposing himself to view. Then the fox finds he\’s gone without guidance, and tries to catch him there. In the end the muskrat realizes how serious the fox\’s deception was, and feels he can no longer trust anyone- who else might seem to be his friend, and only pretending to get an advantage? He nearly falls victim to a trap, which shakes his composure even more. In the end the farmer\’s boy finds and disposes of all the traps set to catch the muskrat, and he is once more safe from predators- both natural and man-made.
Rating: 3/5 206 pages, 1926