Deer BOOK LOOK – Chapter 5 – Lightfoot Sees the Newcomer

Original story written by Thornton Burgess and revised by P.L.A.Y. for the 21st century family.

– Chapter 5 –

Lightfoot Sees the Newcomer


Lightfoot the Deer was unhappy. It was a strange unhappiness, an unhappiness such as he had never known before. You see, he had discovered that there was a newcomer in the Green Forest and he knew it was another Deer. He knew it by the dainty hoofprints in the mud along the Laughing Brook and on the edge of the pond of Paddy the Beaver. He knew it by other signs which he ran across every now and then. And however much he searched he was unable to find the newcomer. He had searched everywhere and yet always he was just too late. The newcomer had come and gone.

Lightfoot felt a great longing and for the first time in his life Lightfoot felt lonely. He lost his appetite. He slept little. He roamed about uneasily, looking, listening, testing every Merry Little Breeze, and searching for the newcomer with no luck.

Then, one never-to-be-forgotten night, as he drank at the Laughing Brook, a strange feeling swept over him. It was the feeling of being watched. Lightfoot lifted his beautiful head and a slight movement caught his quick eye and drew it to a thicket not far away. The silvery light of gentle Mistress Moon fell full on that thicket in which a beautiful head in all the Great World was peeking out. For a long minute Lightfoot stood gazing. A pair of wonderful, great, soft eyes gazed back at him. Then that beautiful head disappeared.

With a mighty bound, Lightfoot cleared the Laughing Brook and rushed over to the thicket in which that beautiful head had disappeared. He plunged in and there was no one there. He searched thoroughly and yet that thicket was empty. Then he stood still and listened. Not a sound reached him. It was as still as if there were no other living things in all the Green Forest. The beautiful newcomer had slipped away as silently as a shadow.

All the rest of that night Lightfoot searched through the Green Forest with no luck. The longing to find that beautiful newcomer had become so great that he fairly ached with it. It seemed to him that until he found her he could know no happiness.

Capkin is curious to know who the newcomer is too!

Capture your thoughts in your P.L.A.Y. Adventures nature journal!

  1. Have you taken a walk in the moonlight?
  2. Was it a full moon? Half-moon? Crescent moon?
  3. Have you ever recorded the phases of the moon in your nature journal each night?
  4. If you draw the moon each night for two months, what pattern do you see?
  5. Did you know that “moonlight” is actually the sun reflecting off of the moon? The moon does not have the ability to light up on its own. Brilliant!

Deer BOOK LOOK – Chapter 4 – A Surprising Discovery

Original story written by Thornton Burgess in 1921 and revised by P.L.A.Y. for the 21st century family.

– Chapter 4 –

A Surprising Discovery


It was a beautiful late autumn in the Green Forest as Lightfoot the Deer had returned after spending his spring and summer across the Big River.

Lightfoot roamed about and it seemed to him that he could not be happier. There was plenty to eat and he began to grow sleek and fat and handsomer than ever. The days were growing colder and the frosty air made him feel good.

Just at dusk one evening he went down to his favorite drinking place at the Laughing Brook. As he put down his head to drink he saw something which so surprised him that he quite forgot he was thirsty. It was a hoofprint in the soft mud.

Hoofprint in the soft mud. Who could it be?

For a long time Lightfoot stood staring at that hoofprint. In his great, soft eyes was a look of wonder and surprise. You see, that hoofprint was exactly like one of his own, only smaller. To Lightfoot it was a very wonderful hoofprint. He was quite sure that never had he seen such a dainty hoofprint. He forgot to drink. Instead, he began to search for other hoofprints, and presently he found them. Each was as dainty as that first one.

Who could have made them? That is what Lightfoot wanted to know and what he meant to find out. It was clear to him that there was someone new in the Green Forest, and somehow he was glad. He didn’t know why, however it was true.

Lightfoot put his nose to the hoofprints and sniffed them and knew for sure he had not met this newcomer before in the forest. A great longing to find the maker of those hoofprints took hold of him. He lifted his handsome head and listened for some slight sound which might show that the newcomer was near. With his delicate nostrils he tested the wandering little Night Breezes for a stray whiff of scent to tell him which way to go. However, there was no sound and the wandering little Night Breezes told him nothing. Lightfoot followed the dainty hoofprints up the bank. There they disappeared, for the ground was hard. Lightfoot paused,
undecided which way to go.


Capture your thoughts in your P.L.A.Y. Adventures nature journal!

  1. Have you ever made tracks in the mud? How long do they last? How do they change?
  2. Have you ever seen animal tracks in the mud?
  3. How do you know who the tracks belong to?
  4. Below are two favorite books for looking up animal tracks and discovering which four-legged friends have been making trails in your neck-of-the-woods!

WILD TRACKS: A Guide to Nature’s Footprints by Jim Arnosky

This book features GIANT fold-out pages of LIFE-SIZE animal foot prints!

From deer to bear, canines to felines, small rodents to birds, this book has all the key local animal tracks covered.

Scats and Tracks of the Northeast: A Field Guide to the Signs of Seventy Wildlife Species

by James C. Halfpenny and Jim Bruchac illustrated by Todd Telander

This book fits easily in your backpack and helps you identify tracks through illustrations, a handy ruler on the back flap for measuring, and written descriptions.

This is a must have outdoor guide for folks living or visiting: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Deer BOOK LOOK – Chapter 3 – Tree Branch Surprise

Original text written by Thornton Burgess in 1921 and revised by P.L.A.Y. for the 21st century family.

– Chapter 3 –

Tree Branch Surprise


It was evening and dear jolly, round, red Mr. Sun had gone to bed behind the Purple Hills, and the Black Shadows had crept out across the Big River. Mr. and Mrs. Quack were getting their evening meal among the brown stalks of the wild rice along the edge of the Big River. They took turns in searching for the rice grains in the mud. While Mrs. Quack tipped up and seemed to stand on her head as she searched in the mud for rice, Mr. Quack kept watch for possible danger. Then Mrs. Quack took her turn at keeping watch, while Mr. Quack stood on his head and hunted for rice.

It was wonderfully quiet and peaceful. There was not even a ripple on the Big River. It was so quiet that they could hear the barking of a dog at a farmhouse a mile away. They were far enough out from the bank to have nothing to fear from Reddy Fox or Old Man Coyote. So they had nothing to fear from any one other than Hooty the Owl. It was for Hooty that they took turns in watching. It was just the hour when Hooty likes best to hunt.

By and by they heard Hooty’s hunting call. It was far away in the Green Forest. Then Mr. and Mrs. Quack felt easier, and they talked in low, contented voices. They felt that for a while at least there was nothing to fear.

Suddenly a little splash out in the Big River caught Mr. Quack’s quick ear. As Mrs. Quack brought her head up out of the water, Mr. Quack warned her to keep quiet. Noiselessly they swam among the brown stalks until they could see out across the Big River. There was another little splash out there in the middle. It wasn’t the splash made by a fish; it was a splash made by something much bigger than any fish. Presently they made out a silver line moving towards them from the Black Shadows. They knew exactly what it meant. It meant that someone was out there in the Big River moving towards them.

Mrs. & Mr. Quack!

With their necks stretched high, Mr. and Mrs. Quack watched. They were ready to take to their strong wings the instant they discovered danger. However, they did not want to fly until they were sure that it was danger approaching. They were very much on alert.

Presently they made out what looked like the branch of a tree moving over the water towards them. That was odd, very odd indeed. Both Mr. & Mrs. Quack said so. And they were both growing more and more suspicious. Mr. and Mrs. Quack half lifted their wings to fly.

It certainly was very mysterious. There, out in the Big River, in the midst of the Black Shadows, was something which looked like the branch of a tree. However, instead of moving down the river, as the branch of a tree would if it were floating, this was coming straight across the river as if it were swimming. How could the branch of a tree swim? This continued to puzzle Mr. & Mrs. Quack.

So they sat perfectly still among the brown stalks of the wild rice along the edge of the Big River, and not for a second did they take their eyes from that strange thing moving towards them. They were ready to spring into the air and trust to their swift wings the instant they should detect danger. They did not want to fly unless they had to as they were very curious to find out what that mysterious thing moving through the water towards them was.

So Mr. & Mrs. Quack watched that thing that looked like a swimming branch draw closer and closer, and the closer it drew the more they were puzzled, and the more curious they felt. If it had been the pond of Paddy the Beaver instead of the Big River, they would have thought it was Paddy swimming with a branch for his winter food pile. And yet Paddy the Beaver was way back in his own pond, deep in the Green Forest, and they knew it. So this thing became more and more of a mystery. The nearer it came, the more nervous and anxious they grew, and at the same time the more curious they became.

At last Mr. Quack felt that it wasn’t safe to wait longer. He prepared to spring into the air, knowing that Mrs. Quack would follow him. It was just then that a funny little sound reached him. It was a half snort, half cough, as if some one had sniffed some water up their nose. There was something familiar about that sound.

“I’ll wait,” thought Mr. Quack, “until that thing, whatever it is, comes out of those Black Shadows into the moonlight. Somehow I have a feeling that we are in no danger.”

So Mr. and Mrs. Quack waited and watched. In a few minutes the thing that looked like the branch of a tree came out of the Black Shadows into the moonlight, and then the mystery was solved. They saw that they had mistaken the antlers of Lightfoot the Deer for the branch of a tree. He was swimming across the Big River on his way back to his home in the Green Forest.

At once Mr. and Mrs. Quack gladly swam out to meet Lightfoot and to tell him how happy they were to see him and his wonderful set of antlers.


Capture your thoughts in your P.L.A.Y. Adventures nature journal!

  1. Have you ever seen things in the dark shadows outdoors and mistaken it for an animal?
  2. Have you ever seen tree branch shadows sprawling across white snow lit up by moonlight? What did it look like to you?
  3. Have you ever sat outdoors when the sun has gone down and the stars are out and simply listened and watched the night sky? Time to P.L.A.Y. and give it a try!
  4. When you come back in try to capture what you experienced in the dark of night by writing and drawing or even recreating and recording a batch of sounds that you heard. A great time to try this is nearer to the Winter Solstice in December as there is shorter hours of daylight so you can be outdoors early around 5PM in the dark!
  5. What senses did Mr. & Mrs. Quack rely on the most to figure out that it was only Lightfoot the Deer?

P.L.A.Y. presents . . .

P.L.A.Y. has created more updated animal, bird, beaver, deer, and toad story adventures from the Thornton Burgess archives for you and your family.

ENJOY!!!

These tales are woven with fun facts and fiction featuring local four-legged and feathered friends in the fields and forests of New England.

Arriving January 2021!