Between the Bookends

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Between these bookends are books reminiscent of my childhood: Golden books, the beloved works of Robert McCloskey, Trixie Beldon mysteries, and Ruth Dixon’s Bartholomew the Beaver. Sentiment aside, I believe the Golden Age of children’s literature is still evolving today. The breadth of titles, the diversity of characters, authors, settings, and an ever-expanding worldview are extraordinary. There is so much to read.

Yet we live in an era where we are all too busy, even children, according to John’s Hopkins Medical Center. How did this happen? Perhaps generations were influenced by the children’s book Bartholomew the Beaver

In the opening scene, little Bartholomew is chasing a butterfly. The text on the opposing page says, “Once there was a silly, lazy little beaver. His name was Bartholomew. He lived with Mother Beaver and Daddy Beaver in their own Beaver lodge. And all he wanted to do was to play all day.” Bartholomew tries to find someone to play with, but everyone is too busy. The “happy” ending comes when Bartholomew learns to be a busy working beaver. 

I was three when I received this book for my birthday. I probably liked the illustrations by Alice Pierce more than the story. However, Bartholomew might have been an early influencer, calling us all to be busy workers. Am I practicing mindfulness every day to counter the hard lesson of Bartholomew the Beaver? Possibly. 

Poor Bartholomew was born too early to benefit from the School Library’s Journal’s lists of children’s books encouraging mindfulness and play. In fact, if his story been written today, Bartholomew would not be dubbed silly or lazy; he would be praised for being mindful and playful. 

Dixon, Ruth. Bartholomew the Beaver. McNally, 1952.