Posts Tagged ‘storybook’

On my 66th celebration of Christmas I am reminded of the storybook I owned so long ago on the shore of Maryland in the early 1940s. The memories came flooding back when I received one of those Internet emails that makes the rounds during these days of mass email messages.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

As a little girl  I loved reading the poem and following the illustrations about the outcast red-nosed reindeer. However, that was all I knew about the book. I did not know that the story was written by a 34-year-old employee of the Montgomery Ward’s department store, Robert L. May, and published by Ward’s store in 1939, for distribution as a promotional gift. 

That had to have been how the book came to be in my possession, as every Christmastime, my parents motored the fifteen or so miles to Baltimore to do holiday shopping at “Monkey Wards” while  my brother and I excitedly told Santa Claus our Christmas wish list. By 1946, Montgomery Ward’s had given away more than six million of the storybooks, one of which most certainly had been a Christmas gift to me from the Monkey Ward’s Santa.

In the old book , except for his shiny nose, Rudolph was just an ordinary reindeer somewhere with his parents in an ordinary reindeer village. Rudolph was taunted and laughed at by the other reindeer youngsters for his luminous snout.  Santa discovered the young reindeer’s glowing nose quite by accident one foggy Christmas eve, when he saw light coming from Rudolph’s bedroom whilst delivering presents to Rudolph’s reindeer family.  Worried about the thickening fog and reduced visibility for his air-born sleigh, Santa requested Rudolph to lead his legendary team of reindeer. By the end of the journey Santa proclaimed Rudolph with his shiny nose to be the hero of that Christmas Eve night: “By YOU last night’s journey was actually bossed.  Without you, I’m certain we’d all have been lost!

The image, Rudolph Reindeer, was originally uploaded by barneykin. It is posted here from Barneykin’s flickr account.

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When I was a child, no one ever read “Wind in the Willows” to me. I am now making up for lost years, by listening to it on my new iPod Touch. The story of each chapter is told by a different reader at Librivox. I do not know how it is that I ever turned into the something or other that I am, without the life’s wisdom that is told by these wonderful animals in the storybook.

What a delight it was last night while listening to Kara Shallenberg reading Chapter Three – “The Wild Wood” to find myself in the old children’s tale. I am Badger. I even live on the border of the “Wild Wood.”

The Mole had long wanted to make the acquaintance of the Badger.  He seemed, by all accounts, to be such an important personage and, though rarely visible, to make his unseen influence felt by everybody about the place.  But whenever the Mole mentioned his wish to the Water Rat he always found himself put off.  ‘It’s all right,‘ the Rat would say. ‘Badger’ll turn up some day or other–he’s always turning up–and then I’ll introduce you.  The best of fellows!  But you must not only take him AS you find him, but WHEN you find him.’

‘Couldn’t you ask him here dinner or something?‘ said the Mole.

‘He wouldn’t come,‘ replied the Rat simply.  ‘Badger hates Society, and invitations, and dinner, and all that sort of thing.’

‘Well, then, supposing we go and call on HIM?‘ suggested the Mole.

‘O, I’m sure he wouldn’t like that at ALL,‘ said the Rat, quite alarmed.  ‘He’s so very shy, he’d be sure to be offended. I’ve never even ventured to call on him at his own home myself, though I know him so well.  Besides, we can’t.  It’s quite out of the question, because he lives in the very middle of the Wild Wood.’

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