Timeless Tales of Beatrix Potter by Beatrix Potter
Digital Audiobook narrated by Katherine Kellgren
Published by Tantor Audio on March 24, 2014
Genres: Animals, Children's, Classics, Fantasy, Fiction
Length: 143 pages or 3 hours, 31 minutes
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Beatrix Potter's amazing universe of animals dressed in human clothing has taught and entertained children for over a century. This volume brings together twenty-one of Potter's tales and verses in one book. Hear Peter Rabbit outwit old Mr. McGregor, and Squirrel Nutkin come within a tail's length of being an owl's dinner. Listen as a family of mice save the kind tailor of Gloucester, and as Peter and Benjamin Bunny battle a barn cat. Learn how one fierce rabbit is set on the road to honesty. Although each story stands on its own, several are linked together by events and characters.
So nobody really talks about it anymore, and I don’t know any friends who have read these tales to their children, but Beatrix Potter is such a classic. These short tidbits, written over a hundred years ago, are so familiar today. It was such strange nostalgia going back not just to childhood favorites, but to stories I remember having read to me, and the memory of illustrated collections we used to have.
I’m going to try something a bit different here, because this is a collection of very short children’s stories. So, rather than try to summarize the collection as a whole, let’s talk (very) briefly about each one. I’m going to rate them story-by-story, and then just give you an overall averaged rating at the end, rather than do a full breakdown like usual. 🙂
The Tale of Peter Rabbit – ★★★★★
I mean, this has got to be her most famous one. Peter is just an obstinate little rabbit, and there are a couple lines of dialogue that crack me up. Like when momma rabbit is like, “Go play, but not at Mr. McGregor’s, because he murdered your father OKAY BYE.” And the bit at the end where Peter is sent to his room and his sisters get a glorious dinner. Shows the difference in parenting over the last hundred years. After narrowly escaping death, Peter is not cherished, but sent to bed without proper supper to teach him, hey, maybe next time don’t go taunting rabbit killers? Thanks.
The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin – ★★★
I think the riddling and rhyming in this one mostly just annoyed me. Her squirrel characterization seems on point, though.
The Tailor of Gloucester – ★★★★
I think I’ve got vague memories of this one from my childhood. It’s just okay, that tailor does an awful lot of moaning and flopping about and waiting for someone to rescue him like a damsel in distress. Honestly, he even sends his cat to go get groceries. My cats would never get me groceries. They would play with the grocery bags, but it’s not quite the same.
The Tale of Benjamin Bunny – ★★★★★
Hah, so, okay, I remember this one now that I’ve re-read it. The saga of Peter Rabbit continues! We see that Peter has grown a bit as a character since his near capture in Mr. McGregor’s garden. Also I am appreciating the cat who apparently enjoyed the smell of onions, and therefore decided to sit on a basket for 5 hours.
The Tale of Two Bad Mice – ★★★★★
I have vivid memories of the illustrations for this story from when I was little, but I’ve never been able to put it all together – I remembered mice in a dollhouse. This was one of my favorites. I appreciate that the mice felt guilty and tried to make amends.
The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle – ★★★★★
This one has Alice in Wonderland vibes, and it makes my heart happy. A good variety of characters. I like that Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle breaks the rules and talks to Sally… even if she’s left wondering if it’s a dream. This is one of those “childhood innocence and wonder” tales.
The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher – ★★★
Nothing wrong with this one, but nothing to make it stand out. Sir Isaac Newton features and has dinner with the group, which is a very fine dinner by frog standards.
The Tale of Tom Kitten – ★★★
Another one I remember from being a kid! Nothing particularly exciting going on, another parent frustrated with her deliberately untidy and troublesome children. I’m getting some Aristocats vibes and it’s a cute little sibling story, but otherwise, nothing special.
The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck – ★★
Ehhhh this is generally just a story about bad parenting? Feels like a familiar folk tale, and nothing that exciting.
The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies – ★★★
Hmm. Well, not as good as its predescessing stories. Also, you’d think that by the time the next generation rolled around, they’d’ve learned not to so into Mr. McGreggor’s garden?
The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse – ★★
Generally unimpressed? Mostly just about a grumpy mouse who is polite when she doesn’t want to be, dealing with people dirtying up her home.
The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes – ★★★★
Okay, so, this one was a bit funny. I appreciate her literal usage of the phrase “a little bird told me”. Also, the way it sort of feels like a story that’s about two men who go out drinking and galavanting about town and their two wives who have to go set them straight. It’s probably not the best parallel for a children’s story, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was entertained.
The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse – ★★★★★
I reference this little story probably once a week. One of my work friends is a “town mouse” while I am very much a “country mouse”. He teases me about it sometimes, and I tease him back. I didn’t realize it originally came from Beatrix Potter! Adorable story with the very true end line: “Different places suit different people.”
The Tale of Mr. Tod – ★
One of my least favorites of the book. It’s unnecessarily long, features yet even more bad parenting (and really bad grandparenting). Our “heroes” at the beginning of the story spend most the second half hiding in a rabbit hole. Intricately described revenge plots that fails, but not spectacularly, and someone gets boiling hot tea thrown in their face. A lot of annoyed eye-rolling. I’d’ve preferred to see the little rabbits do something other than flop around and wait to be rescued, I guess?
The Tale of Pigling Bland – ★★★
This one feels unfinished – like Mr. Tod, it starts with one protagonist, and ends with another. The two little piglets together are pretty cute, but the story is anticlimactic… basically “they got in trouble, but then they got away, the end!”
The Tale of Samuel Whiskers, or, The Roly-Poly Pudding – ★★
I remember illustrations from this one from when I was young as well. 🙂 This story is told twice, once from the worried cats’ POV, and once again from Tom and the rats’ POV. Generally unexciting, but I do appreciate how many kinds of sizable meat the rats managed to hide away. Maybe this time Tom Kitten will learn to behave?
The Tale of the Pie and the Patty-Pan – ★★
While this had adorable moments, such as Duchess begging for a sugar cube and Ribby complimenting her fine begging… it is generally silly. I am noticing these animals are very dramatic and underhanded towards one another as a rule?
The Tale of Ginger and Pickles – ★★
This is the story of two shopkeepers who never force people to pay them, who lament not having money, and then run away to avoid paying bills. All the animals are mad at them for leaving, because they can’t get free goods anymore. Generally dull.
The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit – ★
A 30-second story about a trouble rabbit who gets shot at, but escapes. Dull.
The Story of Miss Moppet – ★
Another very, very short story, only about a minute long. A mouse teases a girl, so a girl ties him in a ball and throws him around, and the mouse escape.
Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes & Cecily Parseley’s Nursey Rhymes – ★★★
I’m combining these two together because they are just a series of very basic rhymes, to the ilk of Mother Goose. Most of these are unfamiliar, but “This Little Pig Went to Market” and “Three Blind Mice” came from this collection, and I never knew they were Beatrix Potter. So now you know!
Do you remember any Beatrix Potter tales from your childhood? I’ve noted the ones I remembered in the review, but I am surprised by how many familiar ones there were! I’d love to hear about the ones that are nostalgic for you in the comments!