And Then I Read: ASSATEAGUE DEER by B.F. Beebe

This is a book about a sika deer (native to Japan) which has been naturalized in many other parts of the world, in this case Assateague Island, on the coasts of Maryland and Virginia. As the story opens, a pregnant sika doe is swimming to a small island to give birth, unaware that a shark is following her and about to attack. The doe manages to arrive safely and gives birth to Little Sika, the main character of the book. Little Sika has many adventures and some brushes with death growing up on Assateague, as he and his mother join a small herd of sika deer and encounter many other animals, some friendly, some wanting to eat them. It progresses along the lines of Bambi, except that the animals are not humanized, and there are no humans in the story. The natural history knowledge is presented well, and seems accurate. The events, from Little Sika being trapped in deep mud to the climactic hurricane, are interesting and exciting, but in the end I can’t say I loved this book. Nothing wrong with it, but it’s not as good as, say, Marguerite Henry’s books about the wild horses of Assateague or Bambi by Felix Salten.

The illustrations by the author’s husband, James Ralph Johnson, are quite good, and I like his two-color cover.

Ellen had this in her animal stories collection and decided not to keep it. I thought I’d read it before we donated it to a thrift shop, and I’m not sorry I did, but on to a new home it will go. Mildly recommended.

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