Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin by Beatrix Potter

First published August 1903
59 pages, 28 color illustrations (including cover and frontispiece)

In the fall, the squirrels sail over to Owl Island to gather nuts. Twinkleberry and the cousins bring gifts to thank Old Brown for letting them gather nuts on his island. Nutkin is a rude little squirrel and teases Old Brown with riddles. When he teases Old Brown one too many times, he looses his tail.

The Story Behind the Tale:
The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin began in 1897. Beatrix Potter heard an American story about squirrels using their tails as sails when going to gather nuts on an island. She wrote Noel Moore about that story on August 26, 1897. She concluded the Keswick squirrels (that's where she was at the time) must swim.

On September 15, 1901, Beatrix Potter wrote a letter to Noel's sister Norah about a squirrel called Nutkin. This picture letter had 12 illustrations. Many consider Squirrel Nutkin to be in the pourquoi tradition as it tells how Nutkin lost his tale (Lear 161). The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin is unique in that it was the first book in which the endpapers were introduces and it was also produced in a deluxe chintz fabric covered edition. F. Warne & Co. published Squirrel Nutkin in August of 1903.

My thoughts: Nutkin is such a rascally little squirrel. I've always been fond of squirrels, but I'm not familiar with the red squirrels that Potter depicts. We have ordinary browny gray squirrels here in Tennessee. I knew something was going to happen to Nutkin. You can't tease an owl repeatedly with no consequences. The riddles were a nice touch. I only wish I knew the answers.

Squirrel Nutkin Miniature Letters (Linder 74-76):
Squirrel Nutkin to Old Brown four time asking for his tail back
Twinkleberry to Old Brown on behalf of Nutkin
Squirrel Nutkin to Dr. Maggotty about a medical cure for his tail
Dr. Maggotty to Squirrel Nutkin
Squirrel Nutkin to Dr. Maggotty
Dr. Maggotty to Squirrel Nutkin
Squirrel Nutkin to Dr. Maggotty

Favorite Illustrations:
Squirrels gathering nuts (20)
Nutkin peeping in the keyhole (27)
Nutkin playing ninepins (47)
Nutkin with a short tail (58)
From the original picture letter- the squirrels laying the mole on the stone (Linder 60)

Favorite words: impertinent, obstinately, gracious, ridiculous, flutterment, scufflement

-Sailing (sail boats in a tub of water)
-Nut hunt (hide nuts and let the children find them. Provide them with sacks similar to the ones in the book.)
-Ninepins (i.e., bowling)
-Dancing (from p. 49- "Nutkin danced up and down like a sunbeam")
-Riddles (Have the children share riddles with one another and take turns guessing the answers)

Join me next Thursday as I explore The Tailor of Gloucester!

No comments: