Beloved children's classic offers warm, whimsical stories about Billy Mink's swimming party, Little Joe Otter's slippery slide, Reddy Fox's fishing expedition, why Grandfather Frog has no tail, other exciting tales. Gentle lessons about nature and wildlife combined with the fun of a good story. 6 full-page black-and-white illustrations.
Paperback, 96 pages
December 29th 1995
by Dover Publications
(first published 1917)
This is the kind of book I would check out from the library and which would normally be rejected at bedtime for a story with more pictures or something less "babyish" or of the character of--not my favorite--Diary of a Wimpy Kid. But both my 10-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter listened with great interest to every story in this collection. Though they were written early in the 20th century, the stories still have some kind of magical appeal that taps into the very thing I am clinging toThis is the kind of book I would check out from the library and which would normally be rejected at bedtime for a story with more pictures or something less "babyish" or of the character of--not my favorite--Diary of a Wimpy Kid. But both my 10-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter listened with great interest to every story in this collection. Though they were written early in the 20th century, the stories still have some kind of magical appeal that taps into the very thing I am clinging to in my children--their innocence and interest in nature, even if it is anthropomorphized like all their still-cherished stuffed animals. When we finished the last story, both kids were disappointed. I told them I would find more--and I have: Thornton Burgess's "How" stories--and they went to sleep happy....more
My 7 yr old gave these books a 5. I agree. "His books are awesome' she says.I liked the way morals were told in an entertaining way. I bet my daughter didn't feel she was being moralized at because she wanted to hear the whole book. I've tried others that had a distinct 'moral' or 'value' and she hates it.(Books that go ... is thankful or ... learns to be honest. blah.
Burgess books are interesting entertaining and a good read. Hopefully the little lessons learned by the animals were also learnedMy 7 yr old gave these books a 5. I agree. "His books are awesome' she says.I liked the way morals were told in an entertaining way. I bet my daughter didn't feel she was being moralized at because she wanted to hear the whole book. I've tried others that had a distinct 'moral' or 'value' and she hates it.(Books that go ... is thankful or ... learns to be honest. blah.
Burgess books are interesting entertaining and a good read. Hopefully the little lessons learned by the animals were also learned and put away in the back of my daughter's mind!
But if not, that's ok. A book is meant to entertain and if it did that, that works for me.
They are a little 'old-fashioned' meaning the sun is called: Mr. round red jolly sun, the wind is Old Mother West Wind, a breeze is One of Mother West Wind's Children, the Merry Little Breezes etc. Quaint and not exactly science but endearing nonetheless. But other than that these books are science in story form. The stories are about real life things that frogs or bears or skunks do or could do. Unlike most books with animals as main characters where they learn to ride bikes, win the spelling bee at school etc. Beginning animal lore for young children. Or budding animal lovers.
If you miss any of these from your local library they are also on Gutenberg's free books site.
Personally I think that these should be re-released with new covers so kids will read them again.
Old Mother West Wind: A group of stories with Mother West Wind or her Little Breezes helping the animals of the Meadow and forest. A couple of 'how the xxx got/ lost zzz' stories also that were quite entertaining.
Morals/ values/ lessons intertwined in the book: vanity, friendship, contentment, helpfulness.
Buster Bear: Buster moves to the Green Woods. This doesn't please the other animals because he takes 'their' fish, and they are frightened of him. But when the animals find out that Farmer Brown's Boy is afraid of Buster, they look at him with new eyes...until they find out the next personality trait Buster shows.
Morals/ values/ lessons intertwined in the book: temper, new friends come to the neighborhood.
Danny Meadow Mouse: Danny gets upset because he has a short tail. He also gets caught by Hooty the Owl, who wants him for dinner.
Morals/ values/ lessons intertwined in the book: greed, anger, envy, kindness, friendship, look before you leap.
Grandfather Frog: He decides it's time for him to see more of the world. A little risk keeps life exciting. He has some exciting adventures before discovering 'there's no place like home'.
Morals/ values/ lessons intertwined in the book: greed, mischieviousness, thoughtlessness, patience.
Old Man Coyote: Something is making a new sound in the Green Meadows/ Green Forest. The animals don't know what it could be. When it is discovered who has moved in, Granny Fox is determined to oust them from HER feeding grounds. Granny is in for a surprise because this stranger isn't easy to fool.
Morals/ values/ lessons intertwined in the book: courage, resisting temptation, good planning
Bobby Coon: Poor Bobby awakes from his winter nap to find his tree being chopped down! He is injured in the fall but taken good care of by Farmer Brown' Boy His trial are not yet over. Bobby must find a new home but that is harder than he thinks.
Morals/ values/ lessons intertwined in the book: helping others, not worrying needlessly, losing your temper.
I'm not a fan of talking animal books-just a personal preference-but my son loves these books and they contain good moral stories. Well written. And our Burgess books are old and so just reading out of them makes me happy. I love old books!
An old favorite of mine when I was a kid, these stories still draw kids in. All three of my kids listened to these stories intently. Simple tales, highly moral, old-fashioned, anthropomorphic animals.... yet for some reason, they still appeal. A nice read aloud choice for younger kids just learning to sit for chapter books--each chapter is a self-contained story. They're also a nice choice for a new reader just learning to read a chapter book.
My 5 year old actually LOVES the stories in this book. Each story is only a few pages long and has great animal/nature characters to relate to. Each story has a subtle 'moral' that's not very preachy. We're looking forward to investigating more books by Burgess after finishing all the lovely stories in this book.
This is a phrase that brings a smile to my face as often as I hear it. As a young child, I would lose myself for hours in the simple world of the wood and pond inhabited by Little Joe Otter, Buster Bear, Grandfather Frog, and terrorized by Farmer Brown's Boy. I can remember the very shelf, even the exact spot in the little library in Felton, CA where these books were kept. I would return practically every week with a new armload to last me until our next trip to the library. OfThe Burgess Books
This is a phrase that brings a smile to my face as often as I hear it. As a young child, I would lose myself for hours in the simple world of the wood and pond inhabited by Little Joe Otter, Buster Bear, Grandfather Frog, and terrorized by Farmer Brown's Boy. I can remember the very shelf, even the exact spot in the little library in Felton, CA where these books were kept. I would return practically every week with a new armload to last me until our next trip to the library. Often I would carry out stories that I read several times before, just so I could once again escape into this imaginary world of furry mischief.
I remember these books well in concept, though the specifics of most of the stories elude me. It was easily fifteen years ago when I began reading them and has been over a decade since I last picked up one of Burguess' stories to read it. That being said, this review is being written as a look back.
These stories are very simple and very fun. Of course, they are children's literature, so that's to be expected, but these stories strike me as especially so. Even still, I can remember some fascinating things I gleaned between the their covers.
For one thing, Burgess did a fantastic job of presenting the ideas of persepective and motivation in simplistic terms. For example, "The Adventures of Danny Field Mouse" would cast Old Man Coyote as a vicious, mean creature wishing to prey on Danny and his friends and family. Yet, pick up instead "The Adventures of Old Man Coyote" and you'll see that when the story is told with him as the protagonist, those pesky field mice are annoying and useful for little more than a snack. After reading both books, you're no more inclined to think of Old Man Coyote as a villian than you are to think of Danny Field Mouse as a pest that should be exterminated. (Note: This is a generic example. I do not recall if Old Man Coyote plays a role in Danny Field Mouse's story or the other way around, but this concept was presented several times. It made an impression on me.)
The only characters consistantly presented as antagonists were Farmer Brown and his boy. This would be one of the only things that I chalk up as odd, or maybe just a little "off" in these books. Humans and their influence on nature are presented as a negative influence on nature and animals - always. It's interesting to note though that while humans are seen as a negative, humanity is lauded and held up as virtuous. All of the animals take on not only human personalities but characteristics, traits, and mannerisms. From a frog with a monocle and an otter with a handkerchief tied to a stick, to a busy-body Jay and a reclusive owl who desires only to be left alone, humanity and it's traits keep cropping up.
Which would be another thing of value I feel that I saw in the Burgess books. These stories are full of social interaction and personality conflicts, even if they are charicatured more often than not. We see over and over again a working out of peace, if not harmony, between conflicting personalities. It may not always be easy to point out a scripture to reinforce the lesson implied, but social harmony is presented and more often than not, resolution is through reconciliation, forgiveness, or a similar method that is not only laudable, but distinctly Christian in action if not motivation.
All in all, the world created by Thornton W. Burgess is imaginative, innocent, fun, and educational. My reccomendation? Grab a handful from your local library, gather a group of kids as an excuse, and lose yourselves in childhood imaginations as you read aloud the stories that have captivated several generations of young readers with the antics of our furry, albiet elusively human, friends.
(Disclaimers: As I said, it has been over a decade since I actually read one of Burgess' books. As such, there may be a specific example that's a little off in this review or something that I would have noticed as an adult that my childhood memories are missing. Also, all of these books say I read them in 1998. While I'm certain I read several of them that year, I'm sure I read some before and after that date as well.)...more
Old Mother West Wind isn’t really one story – it’s gobs of little ones stuck together into one book.
Every day Old Mother West Wind and her daughters, the Merry Little Breezes sweep through the forest, frolicking with the animals, watching the games that they play, and listening to the stories that they tell. They watch as Peter Rabbit pulls pranks on his neighbours, and attend Jerry Muskrat’s festive swimming party. They even help to judge the grand Green Forest race by rushing alongsiOld Mother West Wind isn’t really one story – it’s gobs of little ones stuck together into one book.
Every day Old Mother West Wind and her daughters, the Merry Little Breezes sweep through the forest, frolicking with the animals, watching the games that they play, and listening to the stories that they tell. They watch as Peter Rabbit pulls pranks on his neighbours, and attend Jerry Muskrat’s festive swimming party. They even help to judge the grand Green Forest race by rushing alongside the competitors and making sure they stay on the right course. But most importantly, they help to track down the troublemakers in the forest and ensure that justice is brought to all.
Although at times the animals plagued one another, they also acted sweetly towards one another. For example, at Jerry Muskrat’s swimming party, when they noticed that Peter Rabbit and Bobby Coon were not having fun because they could not swim, Jerry and all of the swimming animals offered to give them rides back and forth across the pool.
Another time, when one of the Merry Little Breezes learns that Reddy Fox and Hooty the Owl intend to eat up Mr. and Mrs. Bob White, she races ahead to warn them.
The story is told of little Tommy Trout and the miserable end that he came to because he wouldn’t mind his parents. It is a good though exaggerated reminder to children to obey their parents.
Each of the books In Thornton Burgess’s The Green Forest series follows a main character. It includes lots of other characters, to be sure, but the main character is the focus of attention. In this book, Old Mother West Wind and her children, the Merry Little Breezes are the focus. Given the characteristics of humans such as speech, emotions, and relationships, this mother and her children whiz in and out of the forest, interacting with the animals that live there and bringing justice to the community.
Several stories are told which are mis-information; the story of how Jimmy Skunk got his strip, why Sammy Jay only screeches ‘Thief!’ and cannot twitter as the other birds do, and how frogs lost their tails. Several of these stories include Old Dame Nature, or ‘Mother’ Nature, who, it would seem, makes an appearance at occasions such as these and punishes the naughty animals. She and Old Mother West Wind function as finite deities so to speak who make sure the forest animals keep in line.
“Whatever Old Dame Nature commanded all the little meadow folks were obliged to do.” [pg. 17]
Here is the tale of how the frog lost his tail.
“Once on a time,” began Grandfather Frog, “the Frogs ruled the world, which was mostly water. There was very little dry land – ho, very little indeed! There were no boys to throw stones and no hungry Mink to gobble up foolish Frog-babies who were taking a sun bath!”
Billy Mink, who had joined the Merry Little Breezes and was listening, squirmed uneasily and looked away guiltily.
“In those days all the Frogs had tails, long handsome tails of which they were very, very proud indeed,” continued Grandfather Frog. “The King of all the Frogs was twice as big as any other Frog, and his tail was three times as long. He was very proud, oh, very proud indeed of his long tail. He used to sit and admire it until he thought that there never had been and never could be another such tail. He used to wave it back and forth in the water, and every time he waved it all the other Frogs would cry ‘Ah!’ and ‘Oh!’ Every day the King grew more vain. He did nothing at all but eat and sleep and admire his tail.
“Now all the other Frogs did just as the King did, so pretty soon none of the Frogs were doing anything but sitting about eating, sleeping and admiring their own tails and the King’s.
“Now you all know that people who do nothing worth while in this world are of no use and there is little room for them. So when Mother Nature saw how useless had become the Frog tribe she called the King Frog before her and she said:
“’Because you can think of nothing but your beautiful tail it shall be taken away from you. Because you do nothing but eat and sleep your mouth shall become wide like a door, and your eyes shall start forth from your head. You shall become bow-legged and ugly to look at, and all the world shall laugh at you.’
“The King Frog looked at his beautiful tail and already it seemed to have grown shorter. He looked again and it was shorter still. Every time he looked his tail had grown shorter and smaller. By and by when he looked there was nothing left but a little stub which he couldn’t even wriggle. Then even that disappeared, his eyes popped out of his head and his mouth grew bigger and bigger.”
Old Grandfather Frog stopped and looked sadly at a foolish green fly coming his way. “Chug-arum,” said Grandfather Frog, opening his mouth very wide and hopping up in the air. When he sat down again on his big lily pad the green fly was nowhere to be seen. Grandfather Frog smacked his lips and continued:
“And from that day to this every Frog has started life with a big tail, and as he has grown bigger and bigger his tail has grown smaller and smaller, until finally it disappears, and then he remembers how foolish and useless it is to be vain of what nature has given us. And that is how I came to lose my tail,” finished Grandfather Frog. [pgs. 6-8]
At the end of the story, a race is held and Spotty the turtle wins because he acted cleverly or, as I would say, he cheated. Not only did he hitch rides on other competitors, but he also managed to hide all but one of the nuts which was supposed to be a sign of having reached the far end of the race. He took the other nut back and was proclaimed the winner and praised for his cleverness.
The forest animals are sometimes naughty and play tricks on each other, but they are always repaid for their mischief.
Conclusion. Not as acceptable as other in Thornton W. Burgess’s The Green Forest series, Old Mother West Wind combines mythic personification with sweet character lessons.
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My kids really like these books. I think they're kind of weird, and the style drives me up the wall. The style is..whimsical? Every animal has a little cutesy nickname, and their plots are sort of rambling. But like I said, my kids like them. The stories are completely innocent and generally positive, and they go on and on and on, so the kids don't seem to run out of them. But if *I* were looking for anthropomorphized animal stories that are funny and cute, I would choose Beatrix Potter over theMy kids really like these books. I think they're kind of weird, and the style drives me up the wall. The style is..whimsical? Every animal has a little cutesy nickname, and their plots are sort of rambling. But like I said, my kids like them. The stories are completely innocent and generally positive, and they go on and on and on, so the kids don't seem to run out of them. But if *I* were looking for anthropomorphized animal stories that are funny and cute, I would choose Beatrix Potter over these stories any day. Potter stories are truly essential classic children's reading. Granted, Beatrix Potter is sometimes a little darker than Thornton Burgess, but Potter's characters have distinctiveness, while the Burgess characters just seem like fleeting fancies. You remember the Potter stories and mull them over later, and the illustrations of course add a lot that you don't get with the Burgess stories. Anyway. Let your kids loose with Old Mother West Wind, no problem. Harmless and apparently fun for everyone in the world...except me! :-)...more
Published in 1910 these 16 short animal tales were written for the author's son. A dedicated conservationist from Cape Cod Burgess introduces young children to a rogues' gallery of critters--who learn lessons the hard way. Mother West Wind brings her own children, the merry little breezes, down to play each morning; they watch the various critters speak and intereact, providing human children with simple, sometimes humorous advice on moral behavior--without bein GENTLE LESSONS IN NATURAL HISTORY
Published in 1910 these 16 short animal tales were written for the author's son. A dedicated conservationist from Cape Cod Burgess introduces young children to a rogues' gallery of critters--who learn lessons the hard way. Mother West Wind brings her own children, the merry little breezes, down to play each morning; they watch the various critters speak and intereact, providing human children with simple, sometimes humorous advice on moral behavior--without being preachy. Hopefully future generations will appreciate and respect Mother Nature (her fauna, at least) the sooner for being introduced to these amusing woodland characters with their all-too-human foibles. The choice of illustrator makes these tales come alive; they stimulate a child's imagination in an age when too much is pre-programmed for kids. (I also recommend a sweet little book of animal stories called Hedgerow Tales by Enid Blyton.)
June 30, 2010. I welcome dialogue with teachers.) ...more
My grandmother read these stories to her children. My aunt loved the stories and looked for the book to read those stories to her children, but believed it had gone out of print since she was never able to find it. I did special order the book from Barnes and Noble to give it to my cousin's children. The stories are delightful.
My mom would read this aloud to us 3 children. When I learned to read, I re-read this and the individual characters' books on my own. The stories are humorous with a moral of some kind. I recommend for family read-aloud or readers who want to sit down and read a fun, classic book.
Not quite as compelling as his "How" stories for my kids; my daughter said that she preferred the stories about why animals got certain traits, while many of these are more Beatrix Potter-style cute animal stories. Still definitely a quality read-aloud for kids in the 4-8 age range.
I enjoyed this one far better than Old Mother West Wind's Children. This one seemed more lighthearted and the spirit of the stories was friendlier. There was a good moral or two. Charming and playful. A couple of the stories were absolutely delightful and warmed the heart.
A simply well written 1910 children's classic. "As Old Mother West Wind climbs over the Purple the Hills with her sack of Many Little Breezes that will play in the Grassy Meadow all day..." I enjoyed the visually stimulating descriptions of nature with personality and the simplicity of the animal characters that have adventures all day; usually teaching some kind of moral, or value in each chapter. Wished I would have known about this book to read to my children when they were young. It was a deA simply well written 1910 children's classic. "As Old Mother West Wind climbs over the Purple the Hills with her sack of Many Little Breezes that will play in the Grassy Meadow all day..." I enjoyed the visually stimulating descriptions of nature with personality and the simplicity of the animal characters that have adventures all day; usually teaching some kind of moral, or value in each chapter. Wished I would have known about this book to read to my children when they were young. It was a delightful, one day read. ...more
My Father read this book to my sister and me-and others by Burgess- many nights before bed from about 1944 to 1948. the stories had been read to him as a child and he loved to share with us in turn. Mother West Wind is a wise and cheerful character who taught her young charges- such as the merry little breezes - well. A simple and wonderful way to experience the natural world. (If I were to read them now, would I feel the same?)
I had to go back to a book written a hundred years ago to find something my 4-year-old liked that didn't involve burps, farts, trolls, or dragons. These short stories of forest animals playing and growing are simple but not shallow. Sometimes there's a lesson about nature or a cautionary tale, but as another reviewer mentioned, there's nothing too preachy. A perfect book of bedtime stories.
My father read this book to me, and then it became one of the first that I read for myself. I have no idea what the original cover looked like because there was no paper jacket, and I doubt the 1947 or similar cover is available any longer. This book may have been my first view of the natural world because we lived in a large city.
This is a book I have read numerous times to kids in 1st grade, and they love it!! Although I find the stories to be repetitive at times, and it is written in "Old English" which is somewhat harder to understand, kids are thrilled each time they hear it, which makes me like it a bit more.
I loved these. It was the first long chapter-type book I read to my 4-year-old, and as I got started I worried they would require too much stopping and explaining, and it did require plenty, but it turned out to be a wonderful time. The 4-year-old loved them too.
One of the first book series I read. When I was about 3 my grandmother read one of them to me. By the time I was in school I had read at least 10 of Thornton Burgess' animal story books. (First appearance of the character "Peter Rabbit", aka Peter Cottontail.)
We loved this book! Such interesting characters with great morals to each chapter. Even if my 3yo son didn't start out listening to the stories when I read them, he'd always stop what he was doing and end up beside me as I read and he became drawn in.
My children loved this entertaining collection of stories about the antics of cutely-named animals in their forest home. I used to make copies of some of the black and white drawings for them to color while I read aloud. Lots of fond memories.
We really enjoyed reading this series of tales. Written in 1910, these stories about meadow and woodland animals have the feel of a gentler time (with characters like Reddy Fox, Johnny Chuck and Grandfather Frog). A fun read for both of the kids.
I remember loving this series when I was younger :) Kind of Wind in the Willows-esque. I read it so long ago that it's hard to remember... I think it's more of an age for A., but R. might still enjoy it since it involves animals.
The copy I have of this used to belong to my grandmother and the stories are so cute and timeless. They are little fables about why animals look and behave as they do, and carry little morals. Josh really liked reading these stories.
I'd forgotten all about Mother West Winds children, the Merry Little Breezes. And all of the fun characters of the forest Peter Rabbit, Jimmy Skunk, Sammy Jay, Grandfather Frog, to name just a few. This was a delight to read.
The entire Mother West Wind series is excellent. It a series from my childhood that tells the stories of the forest creatures with dignity and respect. Where else can a person meet and chat with Grandfather Frog!
Thornton W. (Waldo) Burgess (1874-1965), American author, naturalist and conservationist, wrote popular children's stories including the Old Mother West Wind (1910) series. He would go on to write more than 100 books and thousands of short-stories during his lifetime.