Reading/Interest Level: Primary
Author: Duncan Beedie
Publisher: Templar Publishing
Big Jim Hickory is a hardworking man making a living from trees. However, his work is displacing the forest animals. A bird loses its nest, a porcupine pleads his case, and a beaver confronts the industrious lumberjack. Not an unfeeling man, Jim sympathizes with their fate and offers each a home in his gigantic, warm beard. The animals are happy, but Jim gets no sleep, loses his appetite, and gets quills in his hands whenever he tries to scratch an itch. Jim is stumped. What is a lumberjack to do? He moves the animals out, shaves his beard, and makes them a new home from the shavings. Next he plants new trees and waits for his beard to grow. While the new trees mature, Jim grows a bushy new beard and spends time with his wonderful new friends.
This story follows a natural turn of events from Jim's deforestation. Where will woodland creatures find refuge as natural habitat disappears? Jim's beard represents many man-made solutions, none of which are really effective. Just like Jim, mankind is '"stumped" as we look for ways to reconcile needs and nature. The temporary habitat produced by Jim is soon replaced by the new trees he has planted, but the story emphasizes the length of time required to replace what can be easily destroyed in one day. This humorous story is a good way to introduce children into environmental issues without making them fearful. The art is comical but warm and rustic. The big burly lumberjack has silly, remarkably tiny legs. This is a funny, uplifting tale for children who love nature and animals.