Title: The Adventures of Peter CottontailThe-Adventures-of-Peter-Cottontail
Author: Thornton W. Burgess
Pages: 121
Recommended Ages: 8 & up
Star Rating: ★★★★

Once again we return to the delightful Green Forest

The Story.

Peter Rabbit is being a very silly creature indeed. Why, only imagine – he wants to change his name! And the reason? Because Peter Rabbit does not sound ‘dignified’ enough. As if the name makes the person!

But Peter soon loses his interest in all of this name-changing business. Indeed, he no longer has time to think of it. Not with Reddy Fox launching himself into a full-blown campaign to hunt down and eat Peter. Life in the Green Forest is getting dangerous for Peter…

Can Peter survive Reddy Fox’s murderous attacks?

Discussion.

On the very first page, Peter Rabbit complains that his name is much too plain and declares that he wants another. Mr. Burgess sadly writes of Peter Rabbit’s discontentment, saying,

The glad, joyous happiness of springtime, was everywhere but in Peter Rabbit’s heart. There there seemed to be no room for anything but discontent. And such foolish discontent – discontent with his name! And yet, do you know, there are lots of people just as foolish as Peter Rabbit. [pg. 2]

While Peter Rabbit is still in the throes of his discontentedness, he receives this sound advice from Jimmy Skunk.

“There’s nothing in a name except
Just what we choose to make it.
It lies with us and no one else
How other folks shall take it.
It’s what we do and what we say
And how we live each passing day
That makes it big or makes it small
Or even worse than none at all.
A name just stands for what we are;
It’s what we choose to make it.
And that’s the way and only way
That other folks will take it.” [pg. 3]

But instead of receiving this wisdom, Peter Rabbit makes a face at Jimmy Skunk and tells him that he doesn’t “like being preached at.” [pg. 3] Events conspire to show the foolishness of Peter Rabbit and he eventually accepts that his own name is perfect for him.

The forest animals often play pranks on one another, sometimes for no better reason than to be amused, other times to teach the victim a lesson. The main of the action consists of Reddy Fox (the antagonist) attempting to catch Peter Rabbit (the protagonist) in order to eat him. In each story, Peter Rabbit slyly outsmarts Reddy and exults over him.

On one occasion, one of Peter’s friends tells Reddy that Peter is just around the corner (which is a lie). Instead of finding Peter, Reddy runs into a hornet’s nest and is badly hurt. Because he has been so dishonorable as to try to eat Peter Rabbit, none of the forest animals feel sympathy towards Reddy; on the contrary, they laugh at his plight. Eventually, Peter Rabbit feels sorry for him and helps Reddy out until he recovers. Instead of consolidating their friendship, Reddy continues to make murderous attempts on Peter’s life.

Mother Nature is referred to three times as controlling events.

The Merry Little Breezes are once again personified (but only briefly). Also, the sun is referred to as ‘Mr. Sun’, but he never speaks.

Conclusion. A sweet story in which right and wrong are distinct and each is rewarded its due.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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