Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Vintage Wednesday: Foxy Squirrel in the Garden


This time of year the squirrels in our yard are extra-busy, scurrying and hurrying to bury nuts from our hickory tree.

Did you like writing that sentence? It's very showy.

There's nothing wrong with writing a poetic sentence now and then. I found a book on The Writer's bookshelf that goes nicely with the hustle and bustle outside. It's called Foxy Squirrel in the Garden, by Clara Ingram Judson, illustated by Frances Beem. The book was originally written in 1921, but The Writer has a 1935 edition with an inscription, From Your Teacher, Miss Martha Brubaker, Xmas 1935. (The Writer loves books with inscriptions).

Lots of people know about the Little Golden Books, first published in 1942, but other companies jumped on the inexpensive children's book bandwagon, too. Golden Book expert Steve Santi has a new guide to those other publishers like Whitman, Rand McNally, and others. Rand McNally's Elf Books first appeared in 1947.

The Writer's book doesn't look like the Elf books from her childhood. The story is much longer, 64 pages, with black and white decorations and three-color illustrations and very small type. On the copyright page is a stamp(colophon?): a picture of an elf reading a book, with the words "R Mc Book-Elf." Maybe this storybook was a forerunner of those later Elf books, which were easier to read and had lots of full-color illustrations.

Foxy Squirrel is similar to the animal books of Thornton W. Burgess. The characters talk but don't interact with humans. Foxy and his wife have just built the perfect home when a man chops down the tree. The squirrels hunt for a safer place to live the first half of the book. They find a perfect garden and the rest of the book is about the adventures of other birds and animals who also live in the garden. The story may be uneven, but the illustrations are wonderful, rendered in gold, dark green, and orange.

Winchester, what's out the window? Your tail is thrashing and you're making that weird chattering sound.

That squirrel is making a face at me! If I could get outdoors, I'd show him a thing or two!

I have sad news for you, Winchester. You're way too big to run up a tree. The squirrels around here are quite safe.








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