A Storybook Gift from a Sister to her Brother

[slideshow] It is not that unusual to leaf through a children’s story book that an older sister purchased for her seven-year-old brother except if she bought it for him in 1937. The family had travelled over to Moncton to visit their Aunt Minnie, and, on the way back across the ferry, she signed the book “To Lorne H. MacLean from your sister Hazel on board the SS Charlottetown.”

When Lorne set it down on their kitchen table, I am not sure which I was more struck by, that the children’s book was 75 years old with colourful illustrations of rabbits and a fox or that he had kept in safe keeping this gift that his 17-year-old sister had given to him as a small boy. He didn’t recall who exactly his Aunt Minnie was in Moncton that they had visited or what her connection really was to the family, but he was clear on the sentimental value of this little book.

The book entitled, “Daddy Rabbit Reaches his Limit” was written and illustrated by Edward G. McCandlish who lived from 1887 to 1946. It tells the story of a family of rabbits who made a clay house with a red-tiled roof, and Old Mister Sharp-Toothed Fox looked up at the clouds and knew the rain was coming and was laughing at how the house would cave in. Well, Daddy Rabbit became very mad when he saw the fox sitting on a rock across the road laughing, so he marched over to Old Mister Fox and, as the book indicates, “mopped up the road with him.” After he put the run to him, he came home and asked Ma Rabbit to prepare a “square meal for a man” and a “gentleman’s dinner, too, of ham and cabbage.”

Apparently, they didn’t have to worry about Old Mister Fox coming around their clay house again, as the last line reads, “As for Mister Fox–well–he didn’t come pestering around the Rabbits’ house for a long time after that, I can tell you.”

Well, with the foxes we can see around the countryside these days, and coyotes, too, I wouldn’t mind cooking up a gentleman’s dinner for Daddy Rabbit if he could put the run to them.

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