The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher


book “The tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher”

The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher is a children’s book, written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter. It was released by Frederick Warne & Co. in July 1906. Jeremy’s origin lies in a letter she wrote to a child in 1893. She revised it in 1906, and moved its setting from the River Tay to the English Lake District. The tale reflects her love for the Lake District and her admiration for children’s illustrator Randolph Caldecott.

Jeremy Fisher is a frog who lives in a “slippy-sloppy” house at the edge of a pond. One rainy day he collects worms for fishing, and sets off across the pond on his lily-pad boat. He plans to invite his friends for dinner if he catches more than five minnows. He encounters all sorts of setbacks to his goal, and escapes a large trout who tries to swallow him. He swims for shore, decides he will not go fishing again, and hops home.

Potter’s tale pays homage to the leisurely summers her father and his buddies passed sport fishing at rented country estates in Scotland. Following the tale’s publication, a child fan wrote Potter suggesting Jeremy find a wife. Potter responded with a series of miniature letters on the theme as if from Jeremy and his pals. After Potter’s death in 1943, licences were issued to various firms to produce the Potter characters. Jeremy and his friends were released as porcelain figurines, plush toys, and other merchandise.

Jeremy Fisher is a frog who lives in a damp little house amongst the buttercups at the edge of a pond. His larder and back passage are “slippy-sloppy” with water, but he likes getting his feet wet; no one ever scolds and he never catches cold. One day, Jeremy finds it raining and decides to go fishing. Should he catch more than five minnows, he will invite his friends to dinner. He puts on a Macintosh and shiny goloshes, takes his rod and basket, and sets off with “enormous hops” to the place where he keeps his lily-pad boat. He poles to a place he knows is good for minnows.

Once there, he sits cross-legged on his lily-pad and arranges his tackle. He has “the dearest little red float”. His rod is a stalk of grass and his line a horsehair. An hour passes without a nibble. He takes a break and lunches on a butterfly sandwich. A water beetle tweaks his toe, and rats rustling about in the rushes force him to seek a safer location. He drops his line into the water and immediately has a bite. It is not a minnow but little Jack Sharp, a stickleback. The fish escapes but not before Jeremy pricks his fingers on Jack’s spines. A shoal of little fishes come to the surface to laugh at Jeremy.

Jeremy sucks his sore fingers, but a trout rises from the water and seizes him with a snap (Mr. Jeremy screams, “OW-OW-OW!!!”). The trout dives to the bottom, but finds the Macintosh tasteless and spits Jeremy out, swallowing only his goloshes. Jeremy bounces “up to the surface of the water, like a cork and the bubbles out of a soda water bottle”, and swims to the pond’s edge. He scrambles up the bank and hops home through the meadow; quite sure he will never go fishing again.

In the last few pages, Jeremy has put sticking plaster on his fingers and welcomes his friends, Sir Isaac Newton, a newt, and Alderman Ptolemy Tortoise, a tortoise who eats salad. Isaac wears a black and gold waistcoat and Ptolemy brings a salad in a string bag. Jeremy has prepared roasted grasshopper with ladybird sauce. The narrator describes the dish as a “frog treat”, but thinks “it must have been nasty!”.

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