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 The fully-illustrated edition of Mr. Biddle and the Squirrel’s Tale by Anne Mason is released by INDIGO RIVER PUBLISHING.

WATCH THE FIRST CINEMATIC TRAILER 

 

 

 

Explore the Story

 

Jonathan Squirrel’s nut has been stolen!  Join Mr. Biddle and his woodland friends as he recounts the tale of Forest of Leeds greatest heist.  With the help of Jonathan Squirrel and Nigel Owl in finding the perpetrator — Nigel, of course, making sure to show off his best feathered side, Mr. Biddle uncovers the culprit. However a certain revelation turns the pursuit on its head.  Transformed from a quest of apprehension for a petty thief, Mr. Biddle’s story becomes one of compassion and mentorship for a fellow woodland creature, changing more than one life that day.

 

With each scene illustrated by the illustrious photographer, Jim Zuckerman, whose accolades include everything from publications for the National Geographic Society and Life Magazine, the world of Mr. Biddle and the Squirrel’s Tale brilliantly shines through as the fairytale-like English woods of old.

 

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Setting and Character Collection

 

 The Ancient Forest of Leeds

 

By Anne Mason

 

Mr. Biddle strolled into the heart of the forest.  The morning air was rich with the fragrance of leaves and loam.  Glistening rays of sunlight filtered through the tangled tree branches, illuminating the ground below.  The boughs, gnarled with age, dripped their bounty of nuts onto the winding path before him.  The foliage became thick and lush, forming an arch of fairy-tale green overhead.  Large roots sprawled on the ground, twisting like the great backs of sea dinosaurs.

 

Briars, brambles and berry trees bordered the path as Mr. Biddle strode nearer and nearer to The River Air.  The forest seemed to come alive with the fluty piping of songbirds and butterflies dancing in the air, their wings a-whirr like ripples of silk.  To his delight, Mr. Biddle spotted Mr. Liddicoat the hedgehog, and his tiny, quilled family as they scurried about the crinkly forest floor.  Under a canopy of oak trees, a solitary red deer enjoyed the comforting goodness of the long, tender grass and brightly-colored berries.

 

The narrow path suddenly opened up onto the edge of the gently curving river. Boulders lined the edges of the swirling water, capped with pillows of velvety moss and acting as the passive protectors of a peaceful place.  Speckled trout drifted under the shady eaves of the bank, flicking their tails lazily.  Mr. Biddle laid back against a knobbly boulder, leaned his head against the mossy pillow and reflected upon the spectacular beauty around him. He couldn’t imagine a more splendid and magical place.

 

The glory of England’s ancient woodland — Forest of Leeds, was revealed.

       

 

    

 A Strange Disappearance © AM/Mr. Biddle Enterprises, Inc.- Illustration from Mr. Biddle and the Squirrel’s Tale

 

 

The Endearing Traits of Jonathan Squirrel

 

By Anne Mason

 

Jonathan peered from left to right, frowning slightly.  “I believe it was somewhere

between the two,” he said, glancing at the gap between his legs.  

“Hmmm,” said Mr. Biddle.  “That would put the nut in front of this large tree root.”

 MR. BIDDLE AND THE SQUIRREL’S TALE

 

  It wouldn’t surprise us to learn that Jonathan has misplaced his hickory nut, knowing that he has a bit of the “absent minded professor” tendency about him.  While he is naturally gifted with academic brilliance, Jonathan possesses an innate ability to forget important details about his surroundings, including the whereabouts of such a valuable possession — a flaw that inadvertently captures our hearts in a humorous and endearing fashion.

 

In his youth, Jonathan was very curious about the world.  He would spend his days exploring and learning about the intriguing sights and sounds of the forested landscape around him.  During this informative time, Jonathan received insightful guidance from his parents — particularly from his father, who was always delighted to pass on his wisdom, advice and engaging stories.   In addition, Jonathan also developed a requisite moral sense, the ability to distinguish right from wrong, which can be cited in the remarkable case of Basil’s thievery.

 

While Jonathan is not very tolerant of misbehavior, he is best known for his compassionate and kind nature throughout the forest.  Jonathan comes to terms with Basil’s unfortunate dilemma of his hickory nut being stolen by taking the time to listen to and understand Basil’s actions before passing judgment. As a result, he is able to let go of his bitterness towards Basil, which eventually leads to a logical and empathetic solution.

 

 

     

Gratitude Changes Everything © AM/Mr. Biddle Enterprises, Inc. – Illustration from Mr. Biddle and the Squirrel’s Tale

 

 

Basil Squirrel’s Innate Sense of Musical Composition

 

By Rachel Rehr

 

Frisky and clever am I,

   Frisky and clever am I, 

I can find a nut

   Without batting an eye!

 MR. BIDDLE AND THE SQUIRREL’S TALE

 

Unlike his older, responsible siblings, Basil is more lighthearted and likes to discover the humor in situations that his siblings may overlook.     While his eldest siblings have striven to maintain the family farm— growing the juiciest and brightest-red tomatoes in all of the Forest of Leeds— Basil’s tendency to ‘disappear’ in the middle of planting or tilling was a constant source of vexation for the family.   When Basil did escape from farm work, it was not uncommon to hear him about the forest, humming and singing along to a local tune.

 

One of the most significant moments in Mr. Biddle and the Squirrel’s Tale occurs when Basil Squirrel discovers the importance of gratitude (and literacy!)— bringing a newfound happiness to his character.  As of late, Basil has taken to producing fanciful little ditties of his own creation and recording them for his friends and family with his new-found literacy (much to the credit of Jonathan and Mr. Biddle). Now, Basil’s siblings each take some time away from the harvest to listen awhile to the charming strains Basil sings, slowly mending the family’s bonds.

 

 

 

The Raconteur © AM/Mr. Biddle Enterprises, Inc. – Illustration from Mr. Biddle and the Squirrel’s Tale

 

 

The Forest of Leeds’ First Historian

 

By Rachel Rehr

 

The tortoise wore a very kind smile and said, You know, believe the tale gets better each time you tell it.”

Mr. Biddle was beaming.  He turned to thank Alexander, but his friend had fallen fast asleep inside his cozy shell.

MR. BIDDLE AND THE SQUIRREL’S TALE

 

Alexander has never heard a tale he didn’t like, and he’s certainly never spun one that hasn’t ensnared all that heard his warm, gravelly voice and impassioned recounting.   Sensible, patient, and remarkably well-versed in the oral history of the Forest of Leeds, Alexander is a beloved member of the forest and a favorite among the younger animals. Countless squirrels, hares, and porcupines have been raised on the stories that leave Alexander’s mouth, all gathered about the tortoise’s ornate shell in wonder.  

 

Although it is hard to believe now, as a young tortoise, Alexander had a noticeable stutter, rendering him a shy, soft-spoken individual. Even the suggestion that he would have to speak publicly would create incredible anxiety in Alexander, making him wish he could simply retract into his shell. However, when one of Alexander’s few friends, Mr. Biddle, invited him to a story-telling being told by his grandfather, the Great Horatio Biddle, Alexander was left in awe. So grand were Mr. Biddle’s grandfather’s adventures— so exciting— that Alexander stumbled over himself to recount them to his family again and again and again!

 

Alexander wanted others to feel the energy and adventure he had felt upon hearing such tales, so he began listening— listening for more tales from the Great Horatio Biddle and from the other denizens of the Forest of Leeds. First to his family and then to his friends, Alexander would retell the stories he had heard, finally excited to talk to others. The more stories he told and re-told, the less his stutter appeared. The less his stutter appeared— and the more animals he delighted with his tales— the more confident Alexander grew until he began to resemble the tortoise the Forest of Leeds knows and respects to this very day.  

 

Nowadays, Alexander can be found at a peaceful amble along the riverbank, usually swapping tales with Mr. Biddle and providing a sturdy shell for his friends and family to lean on.

 

 

 

 Center Stage © AM/Mr. Biddle Enterprises, Inc. – Illustration from Mr. Biddle and the Squirrel’s Tale

 

 

The Mysterious and Wise Nature of Nigel 

 

By Anne Mason

 

“Then, in the next moment, Nigel stretched his magnificent wings, thrust himself into the air, and soared silently into the horizon.

 MR. BIDDLE AND THE SQUIRREL’S TALE

 

Nigel’s quiet demeanor exudes an air of mystery and an “all knowing point of view.” He is known as the serene, wise observer throughout the Forest of Leeds, although this respectable persona is sometimes tinged by his own borderline, self-infatuated tendencies: preening his feathers to perfection during a moment of urgency and pursuit, being but one such example.

 

Like his father and grandfather, Nigel attended one of England’s oldest and most distinguished owl schools, Ayleswood.  Founded in 1820, the University’s reputation for outstanding owl achievement is known across the world.  First-year students entering the ivied halls begin their studies with fundamental courses in: Strigiformes (owl) history, meteorology, natural science and classical literature – followed later by exceptional soaring and predatory pattern techniques.

 

Upon his graduation from Ayleswood, the Chancellor awarded Nigel with an Honorary Membership to “The Order of the Nocturness,” a prestigious parliament of scholarly owls.  As of late, Nigel serves as a trusted navigator and cartographer alongside Mr. Biddle, as they study maps and locations of far away places long after the sun has dipped back into the folds of the earth. The stately owl meticulously charts all routes and notes with the most exquisite, feathered ink quill available— made from one of his own feathers, of course— and he delights when others notice the ‘similarities’ between the beautiful writing instrument and his own plumage.