When I was in Second Grade, my teacher gave every student in her class the gift of a book at the end of the school year--all seven of us!
My book was Mother West Wind 'How' Stories by Thornton W. Burgess and contained chapters with titles like: 'How Old King Eagle Won His White Head' and 'How Mr. Flying Squirrel Almost Got Wings.' Burgess was a naturalist who wrote 170 books in his lifetime! They all promoted the love of nature and conservation.
I loved this book and read it many times--mostly cause we didn't have too many chapter books at home--but also because Burgess had such delightful names for everything--all the animals had a name--Peter Rabbit, Joe Otter, Sammy Jay. And they played together in lovely spots in the Green Forest--The Smiling Pool, the Old Briar Patch, The Green Meadows, The Lone Path. I loved it when Grandfather Frog said "Chug-a-rum," when he began to tell a story!
I was sitting on my porch this evening when I heard a raucous scream from a bird in the yard. I looked up and there sat Sammy Jay--straight from the Mother West Wind book! There he was, perched right on my back fence--all dressed in his sky blue coat!
"It seems as if Old Mother Nature must have cut off a little piece of the sky when it was bluest on a a summer day to make Sammy Jay's coat, and that she must have taken a tiny strip from the whitest cloud to trim it with. And then she gave him a smart cap and a black collar and a waistcoat of just the softest grayish white that shows off his blue coat best. Old Mother Nature certainly was feeling very good indeed when she planned Sammy Jay's clothes."
Truthfully, I had not thought of the stories in a long time, and hadn't realized I knew what sound a Blue Jay makes, but those long ago tales came flooding back to me when I saw the blue jay swoop at the bid feeder, chasing away the other birds and flouncing and pecking about for seed on the ground by himself. He had made a grand announcement of his presence from the fence!
If you've never had the pleasure of reading any of Thornton W. Burgess' tales, visit here. These stories are great read alouds to kids!
And if you've never explored Project Gutenberg, go there now! There are over 28,000 free e-books available for download!