Friday, July 23, 2021

Fumbling Through Fantasy: Old Mother West Wind by Thornton Burgess (1910)

Old Mother West Wind has several children known as the Merry Little Breezes, who love to involve themselves in the affairs of the animals who live in and around the forest, including:  Peter Rabbit, Jimmy Skunk, Sammy Jay, Bobby Coon, Little Joe Otter, Grandfather Frog, Billy Mink, Jerry Muskrat, and Spotty the Turtle. As these animals interact with each other and with the Breezes, the reader is treated to many gentle adventures, most of which have a bit of a moral at the end. 

My husband read Old Mother West Wind aloud to my oldest as a toddler, but when I tried it with my second daughter she wasn't a fan. It wasn't until now, with daughter number three (E, age 3.5) that I actually read the entire book. Unlike her older sister, E. really enjoyed entering the world of these animals and observing their activities.

For me, a reader who doesn't love animal stories, it was not my favorite read-aloud, but I did appreciate that the chapters were short enough to hold my young listener's attention and that it was very easy to sort out right and wrong actions taken by the animals in each story. For a book that is over 100 years old, much of it is still relatable to preschoolers who are starting to really understand how to interact with others for the first time. They can explore various social situations vicariously through these animals, and then apply those lessons to real life. 

Old Mother West Wind is a great first chapter book to read aloud, and I plan to keep it in my preschool curriculum for when the twins reach this stage in the hopes that it will resonate with one or both of them as well. 

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