When I was little, I read all of the Thornton W. Burgess animal books that we had. Oddly, I never looked for more at the library, but maybe that was because even then I knew they were old; I grew up in the 80s, and the books in questions had been gifts to my father as a child. When my parents moved out of the house I grew up in, my father asked if I wanted those same books, and I jumped at the chance. They’ve been sitting on my shelves for a year or two, and today I finished reading Happy Jack to my 2nd girlie. (I picked it for her first Burgess book because I remembered re-reading it as a child.)
Happy Jack is a grey squirrel who stores nuts for the winter and hides from Shadow the Weasel, the one predator who can climb as well as he can AND fit into similarly small spaces. On paper, I suppose, it doesn’t look that interesting, but I still enjoyed it at 36; Burgess has a folksy, grandfatherly sort of tone, and I learned quite a few random facts about wildlife from reading his books. My girlie enjoyed it, despite our stop-and-go progress (it’s been a busy summer), and says she wants to read more. I love reading to her and I’m excited for her to enjoy books I remember enjoying, but I confess–there’s something extra special about reading a book to my daughter with this inscription on the inside cover:
Stanford from Daddy and Mommy
Jan. 23, 1949
That’s my dad, and on January 23, 1949, he turned 7. His health isn’t what it used to be, now, nor his memory, but he still snuggles with and reads to my children, and it makes my heart happy to hold such a book in my hand and read it to my daughter.
Such are the simple joys of parenthood.