About the Holiday
On this date in 1866, one of the world’s most beloved children’s authors was born – Beatrix Potter. Her twenty-three books about Peter Rabbit and his friends have enchanted children for generations, and the tale of how The Tale of Peter Rabbit came to be is as full of twists and turns as any good story – as you’ll see in today’s book. To celebrate today, why not go to your bookstore, library, or maybe even your own bookshelf at home and enjoy spending some time in the garden with Peter.
Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit
Written by Linda Elovitz Marshall | Illustrated by Ilaria Urbinati
At home in London, young Beatrix Potter loved drawing and painting pictures of her pet rabbit, Benjamin Bouncer and other woodland creatures. Beatrix and her brother didn’t go to school but were taught at home under a strict daily timeline. “Then came summer and … freedom! During the summer, Beatrix’s whole household—pets included—moved to a country house where there were ducks, chickens, cows, and a garden.
When Beatrix’s brother grew a little older, however, he went away to a boarding school while Beatrix had to stay home. “But Beatrix wanted to do something important, something that mattered. She often helped her father with his hobby, photography.” She visited artists’ studios and museums. She learned about art and how to make her drawings better.
She made more pictures of Benjamin Bouncer and sent them to publishers. One publisher put her drawings on the front of greeting cards, and Beatrix began making money from her work. But Beatrix was also interested in the science of nature. She even wrote a paper about mushrooms and hoped to have it printed in a scientific journal, but it was rejected. Beatrix was disappointed but went back to drawing.
Then one day, to cheer up a sick child, Beatrix wrote and illustrated a story about Peter Rabbit. Later, she submitted it to publishers. When they told her they weren’t interested, she had books printed herself. She sold every copy—the second batch too. Finally, a publisher agreed to print her books. Beatrix went on to write more and more stories. At last she had fulfilled her dreams of creating something important. She was also an excellent marketer and self-promoter, and “soon people all over the world knew about Peter Rabbit, and they knew about Beatrix Potter too.”
As Beatrix grew older, she couldn’t draw in the way she had, but that didn’t mean she left the countryside behind. She wanted to protect the farmland she loved. She helped farms and families, paying for needed veterinary care for animals when the farmers couldn’t afford it and for a nurse when the flu hit. Beatrix Potter’s life was made up of so many things that mattered. Not only did she give the world the beloved Peter Rabbit and his friends, but through donations of farms and acreage she “made sure the land would be cared for, protected, and cherished. Forever.”
An Author’s Note about how she came to write this book and more information on Beatrix Potter’s legacy follows the story.
Linda Elovitz Marshall’s delightful and surprising biography of Beatrix Potter delves into the depths of her desire to make a difference with her life. A woman far ahead of her time, Beatrix Potter remains an inspiration for each new generation of readers not only for her well-loved stories but for her community work and foresight. Marshall’s thorough and well-paced story will captivate today’s children, who have the same hopes as Beatrix to influence the world with their talents and opinions. Marshall’s descriptions of Beatrix’s later largesse swell the heart and readers’ admiration for this exceptional woman.
Linda Marshall’s words are set among Ilaria Urbinati’s exquisite illustrations that take children inside Beatrix Potter’s world at home in London and out to the countryside she adored. Her delicate and detailed renderings of young Beatrix drawing with her pet Benjamin Bunny by her side, the farm where she spent summers, her scientific explorations, and her later successes immerse readers in the late 1800s to mid-1900s, allowing them to experience the environments that created one of the world’s most beloved authors. Urbinati’s glorious panoramas of the lake district farms that Beatrix saved are breathtaking and inspiring in their beauty.
For fans of Peter Rabbit and any lover of children’s literature, Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit is a must. Stirring on so many levels, the book will inspire multiple readings as well as the discovery or rediscovery of Beatrix Potter’s tales. Perfect for home, school, and public library collections for story times and to enhance language arts lessons and even nature science studies.
Ages 4 – 8
little bee books, 2020 | ISBN 978-1499809602
Discover more about Linda Elovitz Marshall and her books on her website.
To learn more about Ilaria Urbinati, her books, and her art, visit her website.
Great Outdoors Month Activity
Grow a Vegetable Garden Board Game
As all readers know, Peter Rabbit loved vegetable gardens. With this fun game you and your family can grow your own gardens inside! Roll the dice to see whose garden will fully ripen first!
- Printable Garden Plot Game Board
- Printable Vegetable Playing Cards: Page 1 | Page 2
- Printable Vegetable Playing Die
- Black or brown crayon (optional)
- Card stock or heavy paper for printing (optional)
Object: The object of the game is for each player to fill their garden rows with vegetables. Depending on the ages of the players, the required winning number of rows to fill and the number of vegetables to “plant” in each row can be adjusted.
- Print one Game Board for each player
- Print one set of Playing Cards for each player (for sturdier playing items, print on card stock)
- Print one Vegetable Playing Die and assemble it (for a sturdier die, print on card stock)
- Cut the vegetables into their individual playing cards
- Color the “dirt” on the Garden Plot with the crayon (optional)
- Choose a player to go first
- The player rolls the die and then “plants” the facing vegetable in a row on the game board
- Play moves to the person on the right
- Players continue rolling the die and “planting” vegetables until each of the number of determined rows have been filled with the determined number of vegetables.
- The first person to “grow” all of their veggies wins!
You can find Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit at these booksellers
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