Photography by Jim Zuckerman
ÂŠ1996 by Mr. Biddle Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission from the publisher. ISBN 978-1-5600-2628-0 (print format) Manufactured in the United States of America Photography by Jim Zuckerman Special thanks to Michael Travis & Victoria Sawula
The adult bears in Leeds Forest would say that Mr. Biddle is the most
polite, intelligent, responsible, and well-dressed young bear in all of England. On a perfect day, Mr. Biddle enjoys a hot English breakfast of poached eggs, two bacon strips and potato cakes, carefully separated, so that no food touches the other. fter breakfast, Mr. Biddle strolls down the path to Leeds Library, where he spends much of the day reading. His favorite subject is History. There is nothing more exciting to Mr. Biddle than studying ancient tales from the past. ach afternoon, he goes fishing with his best friend, Alexander Tortoise. They discuss important matters such as, “Why are bees so small?” and “Where does snow go when it melts?” In the evenings, Mr. Biddle enjoys spending time inside his cozy home at 858 Bearington Place, which is several miles away from the Town Square. fter a hot supper, Mr. Biddle and Nigel Owl can be found at his desk studying photographs and maps of far away places. He dreams of one day seeing the world beyond the forest. very now and then, on special days, perhaps twice a year, Mr. Biddle receives a letter from his grandfather, The Great Horatio Biddle. His grandfather is the bravest, wisest, most adventurous, and most respected bear in the world. Mr. Biddle loves reading about his grandfather’s travels to dangerous lands and learning how to carry the family name with honor. ven though Mr. Biddle is studious, thoughtful, and well-dressed, he remains a shy young bear. Letters from the Great Horatio Biddle give Mr. Biddle hope that one day he can be as brave as his grandfather. t was on a quiet night...not very long ago, that things began to change for this friendly bear.
The morning air was filled with the sounds of life and warm gentle breezes.
Robins sang from the tree tops and crickets chirped happily among the tall and slender grasses. It was the first day of Autumn- a time for great celebration throughout Leeds Forest. Nestled in his warm bed, Mr. Biddle was awakening from a long night’s sleep.
“Aaahhhh!” yawned the bear, slowly stretching himself out. He rose to his feet and went down the steps to his front door. 2
uddenly, he heard a tremendous Sgrumbling noise. “Why that’s my stomach,” said Mr. Biddle. “It’s time to get something to eat.” So he brushed his thick fur coat, checked the time on his pocket watch and stepped outside. The damp ground glistened as if it were sprinkled with flecks of silver. “What a splendid fall day!” Mr. Biddle said. Then he picked up his fishing pole and strolled through the woods to the river.
hen he arrived at the water’s edge, Mr. W Biddle discovered his best friend Alexander Tortoise resting on the river bank.
“Alexander,” he whispered, tapping on his thick shell. “Are you awake?” The tortoise slowly opened his eyes and looked up at the bear.
ood morning Mr. Biddle,” Alexander “G said happily. “What brings you down to the river on this fine autumn day?”
“A rather large appetite,” Mr. Biddle replied. “Would you please tell me where I can catch a fish or two?” “It seems to me that the prospects are quite favorable over there,” said Alexander pointing to an oak tree. “Well then,” replied Mr. Biddle, “let’s have a look. Come along, little fellow.”
hey walked beside the river, the T glimmering sun dancing on the water.
In a short time they reached the oak tree. Alexander gave a great sigh of relief and lay exhausted on the ground.
As Mr. Biddle looked around, a puzzled look crossed his face.
”Alexander, are you sure this is the place?” he asked. “There are so many weeds in the water.” “Precisely,” replied Alexander. “Fish like to hide among weeds.” “Ah! You’re absolutely right,” agreed Mr. Biddle. So he sat down in the shade of the oak tree and started to fish.
lexander, have I ever told you the tale “A of the two squirrels named Jonathan and Basil?” Mr. Biddle dropped his line into the water. “Indeed you have,” the tortoise replied sleepily. “Many, many times.” “Well, if you insist,” said Mr. Biddle, “I will tell it to you one more time.” Alexander smiled and closed his eyes as Mr. Biddle began the familiar story…
youth, I was quite an independent Icub.n myI explored this very riverside, always looking for new friends and adventures.
ne afternoon, I stumbled upon Jonathan O Squirrel. His silky, black tail was grander than any I had ever seen. He was staring at the ground very intently. “Hello, Jonathan!” I said. “Hello, bear,” said the squirrel, looking up briefly. “What are you doing?” I inquired curiously. “I’m looking for my hickory nut,” Jonathan answered. “Would you like to help me find it?” “Of course!” I said eagerly. “Now, in which direction were you facing when you buried the nut? North or south?”
thought for a moment, turning Jhisonathan head from side to side. “I believe it was
somewhere between the two,” he murmured, looking underneath himself.
“Let’s see,” I said, “that would put the nut precisely in front of this large tree root.” So we searched, there and everywhere.“Did you find it?” Alexander asked, opening one eye to look up at his friend.
e knew full well the answer to his H question. This was, after all, the bear’s favorite story.
“ e did not,” replied Mr. Biddle. W He reeled in the fishing line and tossed it
back into the water. “We did find Nigel perched on the stump of a large oak tree.” “I don’t like to spread bad news,” said the owl, “but your precious possession has been taken.” “Taken?!” exclaimed Jonathan. The squirrel’s whiskers twitched from left to right, and then his whole body quivered with anger.
ho would take my cherished hickory “nut?” WJonathan asked, a single tear rolling down his cheek.
“Well,” remarked Nigel, “if you really want to know, and I assume that you do…” He paused for effect and directed his large eyes to the bluebonnets just beyond the oak tree. “You should look over there.” With that, the wise owl spread his great wings and flew away.
Jonathan turned quickly and dashed into the wild bluebonnet patch. He waited silently for a moment.
Suddenly, a reddish-brown figure jumped out and scurried past him.
“Oh! Oh!” Alexander said excitedly, interrupting Mr. Biddle’s story. “I know this part. That was Basil Squirrel!” “It was indeed. And he dashed away with Jonathan’s hickory nut in hand!” Mr. Biddle continued… “Stop, thief!” Jonathan cried. “Come back here this instant!”
We hurried off to catch Basil. 20
ur journey led us deeper and deeper into O the forest. As we drew closer, we could hear Basil cheerfully singing a little song: â€œFrisky and clever am I! Frisky and clever am I! I can find a nut Without batting an eye!â€?
Now listen to me, you silly squirrel,” “cried Jonathan. “I’ve had quite enough of your tricks. That hickory nut is MINE!”
“No, it’s not,” announced Basil, leaping from one tree to another. “I found it, so I get to keep it!” Then with the next leap, he slipped from the tree branch and tumbled onto a bed of large rocks.
asil felt quite dizzy and struggled to raise Bhimself up. “Someone, please help me!” he begged. Without hesitation, we hurried over to rescue the squirrel. “You know,” said Jonathan rather crossly, “you would not be in this unfortunate situation if you had not taken my hickory nut in the first place.” “YOUR hickory nut?” exclaimed Basil. “I don’t believe we have determined that yet. But first, please help me. I’m terribly light-headed.”
We gently raised Basil onto his feet. “Oh, thank you!” said Basil gratefully. With one paw, he held the treasured hickory nut out to Jonathan. “Please, accept this as a token of my appreciation for your kind deed.”
you,” said Jonathan. “But before I “enjoy Thankeating this nut, I want to show you
that it is mine. Do you see this letter on the top of it?” Basil carefully examined the nut. “Do you know what letter that is?” asked Jonathan.
Basil sighed. “I’m afraid I do not.”
“Why, what do you mean? It’s the letter J, of course, and that stands for Jonathan.” Basil lowered his head. “I did not know it was yours,” he murmured sadly, “because I don’t know how to read or write.” Suddenly Jonathan understood. Basil had not meant to steal his hickory nut at all. 28
“Oh, Basil,” said Jonathan, no longer angry with his friend. “There are so many important things to know in the world. How will you ever learn about them if you cannot read or write?” Basil lowered his head. “I don’t know,” he said quietly. “So what happened next?” Alexander asked eagerly. Though he knew the bear’s story well, each time he told it was as intriguing as the first. “Well,” said Mr. Biddle, his eyes fixed on the calm, still water. “What happened next is that Jonathan made a very important decision. He decided to forgive his friend and offer him a priceless gift.” 30
“A gift?” asked Alexander. “Do you mean the hickory nut?” “No,” replied Mr. Biddle. “Jonathan would give him something much, much better than a hickory nut.”
Mr. Biddle looked down at his friend, a knowing twinkle in his eye.
“Please, Mr. Biddle,” said Alexander eagerly. “Won’t you finish the story? I want to hear what happens next.” Mr. Biddle smiled and continued his story…
Basil was standing silently in front of us, his sad eyes fixed on the ground. “Basil,” said Jonathan. “Perhaps we could teach you to read and write. Would you like to learn?”
asil looked up, his small brown eyes B suddenly hopeful. “You would do that for me?” he asked.
“Of course,” Jonathan answered. “But only if you promise not to take what isn’t yours.” “I promise,” said Basil happily, brushing his tail over the ground.
S o, in the afternoons that followed, we
gathered on this very riverbank and taught Basil Squirrel how to read and write. He was quite a good student. It was only a short time before he was carving the letter â€œBâ€? for Basil into his own hickory nuts.
asil was so grateful for Jonathan’s B kindness and generosity that he decided to give his new friend a special gift – one of his very best hickory nuts.
On the top of the nut was carefully carved the letter “F” for Friend. “And that is the end of my story,” announced Mr. Biddle. “You know, old friend,” Alexander replied with a smile, “I think it gets better each time you tell it.”
M r. Biddle smiled back at the tortoise.
ust then, the water rippled as a Jspeckled trout began to bite at his fishing line. With a sharp tug, the bear hooked the fish and pulled it out of the river.
“Oh, look what I’ve caught, Alexander!” said Mr. Biddle proudly. The young tortoise winked his eye and then drifted off to sleep.
About the Author
While studying and traveling in England and Europe, Anne Mason fell in love with England anything British, especially their love of teddy bears. Anne Mason always loved to write, but it wasn’t until she became seriously ill with Endometriosis that she made the hobby into a career. During months of agonizing treatments for endometriosis, Anne was unable to work outside her home. “It took my love for teddy bears and combined it with my love for children which I’m unable to have , and my love of England…to produce Mr. Biddle,” Mason said, “It was the only thing that pulled me through it” With time on her hands, while looking out the window of her home, she remembered her time in England. Putting together her love of children, who all love teddy bears, her writing ability, and an idea, the delightfully wonderful Mr. Biddle along with all his animal friends in the great big forest they called home came into being….to teach children about some “lessons” of life through a series of books. In October 2008, Anne experienced even “lessons in life” as a principal actor in the 2009 adventure documentary film, Journey to Everest by Epiphany Productions. On their way to begin their ascent, they were bumped from a plane flight at Lukla airport that inevitably crashed in the mountains. All 18 passengers on board perished. Not to be defeated, she returned to Mount Everest in November 2009, and successfully climbed to Base Camp at an altitude of 17,600 ft. Now she is focusing on continuing the story of Mr Biddle on the ground.
About the Photographer
Jim Zuckerman left his medical studies in 1970 to pursue his love of photography and turn it into a career. Jim specializes in wildlife, nature, and travel photography, macro work, photomicroscopy and digital effects. His diversity in technique and style is unique in the professional arena. He states that he only photographs beauty, leaving the dark side of life to other photographers. Jim is a contributing editor to Petersenâ€™s Photographic Magazine and Shutterbug Magazine, and he is the author of 25 books on photography.
His images, articles, and photo features have been published in scores of books and magazines including Time-Life books, publications of the National Geographic Society, the Economist, Omi Magazine, and Life Magazine, and he now teaches many on-line photo courses for Betterphoto.com. Jim also leads photography tours to exotic destinations such as Indonesia, Turkey, Namibia, Kenya, Kazakhstan, Patagonia, and Mongolia.
With special thanks to Jim Zuckerman, Michael Travis and Victoria Sawula 39
here is a tale of betrayal among gentle forest creatures and
how knowledge and growth can result from an unhappy event. Told through the eyes of Mr. Biddle, a delightful English bear, youâ€™ll join Jonathan Squirrel in his quest to recover his most prized possession and follow his journey of discovery.
n adventure that begins with a shocking theft and ends in a
heart-warming friendship, Mr. Biddle and the Squirrelâ€™s Tale is a story which teaches all of us that helping one another is the most important gift of all.