the Story of a Gray Squirrel
by Ernest Thompson Seton
This is, of course, about a squirrel\’s life. Early parts of it really rushed through some of the story. The squirrel is orphaned at a young age and kept by a boy who puts it to nurse with his cat\’s kittens. Then the barn burns down and the people suddenly move away- at least, it felt very sudden- the chapter about the fire and the people deserting the farm was all of one page. I was curious to read more about the squirrel living with its adoptive feline mother, but instead the story moves on and mostly tells how it lives in the forest- taking some time to adjust to the new situation, learn food sources and strategies, but for the most part having an edge over its competitors because after being cared for in captivity it was larger and healthier than the ordinary wild squirrels.
The narrative got intriguing when, as an adult raising young with its mate, this squirrel protagonist Bannertail fell into sinful living and had to learn from his mistakes or die. Yes, it became a moralistic story. The squirrel discovered intoxicating mushrooms in the forest and became addicted. It suffered for a time going back again and again for the mushrooms, acting wildly aggressive to common enemies while under the influence, being sick the next morning and estranging his family. Eventually the effects of the mushrooms almost killed it, and then it learned to avoid them and taught its young likewise.
There\’s also a very dramatic scene where the entire squirrel family battles a snake. Only one of the young squirrels doesn\’t make it to adulthood (earlier in the book, not from the snake), and in the end Bannertail is triumphant over all his difficulties, living the life wild and free high up in the treetops with his mate.
The feature illustrations are lovely in detail, and the more frequent marginal drawings very amusing and comedic. Enjoyed it on my e-reader.
Rating: 3/5 260 pages, 1922