The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher by Beatrix Potter
(Warne, 2002, 64 pages)
Any child who has been scolded for jumping in puddles might be envious of Mr. Jeremy Fisher. He lives in a damp house at the edge of a pond. This is how Potter describes his home:
“The water was all slippy-sloppy in the larder and in the back passage.
But Mr. Jeremy Fisher liked getting his feet wet; nobody ever scolded him, and he never caught a cold.” (8)
Of course, Jeremy Fisher is a frog, so his penchant for the water is understandable. One rainy day, he decides that the weather is perfect for fishing. Jeremy is hoping to catch some minnows for dinner, but after unsuccessful struggles with a stickleback, who pricks him, and a trout, who tries to eat him, he returns home empty handed to nurse his wounds. Later, when his friends Sir Isaac Newton, a newt, and Alderman Ptolemy Tortoise, a tortoise, arrive at his house for dinner, they make do with salad and roasted grasshopper – seeing as they have no fish.
This is a very funny story, and its descriptions of animals living and having adventures on the water and its banks reminds me a lot of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. The contrast of Jeremy’s frightening experience on the pond and the comforts of home make for a satisfying read and offer children both the adventure and assurance that they enjoy in a story. The comical depiction of Jeremy and his friends in their ornate clothing is also a lot of fun.