We have been spending more time with Bill Peet the last couple of weeks. These books are just so wonderful. They are around 50 pages each and about on a Grade 4 reading level and appropriate to read aloud to any age. It is hard to decide whether we enjoy the story or pictures more but the pictures most certainly enhance the text.
Buford the Little Bighorn, 1967
Buford is a bighorn sheep who has very long horns that have grown all the way around his body. He finds walking on the mountains very difficult and the other sheep must pull and push him along. One day he decides this is not fair to the other sheep so he says goodbye and goes off on his own. He travels the dangerous route down the mountain to the fields below. Here he comes across a cattle ranch and he spends the summer hiding in the middle of the herd. But one day a plane overhead spots him and comes down to land. Buford recognizes them as hunters and knows it must be bighorn hunting season. So he takes off back up the mountains and at the end of the day his horns save him from the hunters. He finds a place where he is safe and his horns are appreciated. Lots of laughs and adventure for all ages plus lessons on accepting differences and making the most of what one can do rather than dwelling on what you can't.
Chester the Worldly Pig, 1965
As a youngster Chester the pig realizes that his lot in life is pretty grim. He thinks that if he is special he might not end up as ham or pork or bacon. So he decides to join the circus and practices and practices to learn a trick, it isn't easy but he is determined and one day he succeeds. Things do not go as easily as he thought they would, he faces one trial after another but perseveres all the time until at the end he learns he was special all along without even knowing it. This is a hilarious story. When the pig joins the circus and is dressed up in doll clothes with a clown pushing him around the ring the 7yo burst out laughing at the look on Chester's face. Plenty of other laughs to be found in this story that focuses on determination and perseverance through all odds.
Big Bad Bruce, 1977
Bruce the bear is a nasty type of guy. He likes to roar and rumble through the forest and his favourite pastime is to scare the wits out of the other forest animals. He especially enjoys throwing boulders at them. But one day he goes too far and throws a huge boulder down a hill where it lands in the garden of a witch. She is generally a nice old lady, unless she gets her temper up. She decides to teach Bruce a lesson he won't forget. Another fun story but not so good as the others we have read by Peet. This book points out that some us are just too set in our ways to ever wholly change.
Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent, 1974
This time Peet takes us back to a time when people crossed the ocean to travel to a new world. The Primrose sets off to undertake this journey but just as she sets off an old man tells them they will face all sorts of hardships. Cyrus, a sea serpent, hears this and decides to follow the ship and take care of them if they come to trouble. Trouble does indeed find the Primrose, first the doldrums, then a fierce storm, and finally pirates. Cyrus is the hero of the day in this rollicking good adventure on the high seas.