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The Wainscott Weasel

Press: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Reissue edition (November 11, 2014)
Publication Date:2014-11-11
Author Name:Seidler, Tor


True love, undying loyalty, and a daring rescue fill the pages of Tor Seidler’s beloved tale, rightfully compared to Charlotte’s Web by The New York Times.Bagley isn’t your typical trouble-making weasel—and he doesn’t mind if his non-weaselly ways prompt teasing from his friends. 
For while other young weasels dance under the pines, Bagley thinks about Bridget, the mesmerizing fish who lives in a pond down the brook from his den.
As the two unlikely friends grow closer, Bagley realizes that there is big trouble in Bridget’s future.
Only a true hero can save Bridget from the gruesome fate that awaits her, and this is exactly what Bagley, much to his own surprise, proves himself to be.
Tor Seidler’s “engagingly imaginative story” (Kirkus Reviews) has been a treasured favorite since its original publication in 1994, and this edition features refreshed prints of Fred Marcellino’s “exceptionally expressive art” (Publishers Weekly).

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6-The Weasels are in love in the Wainscott Woods. 
Zeke Whitebelly loves Wendy Blackish, who admires Zeke for his whiteness.
Bagley Brown, the "Wainscott Weasel," is deeply in love and obsessed with Bridget, a silver fish who says that "fish are meant for fish." Most of the major and minor characters are stereotypes-Zeke is the macho chauvinist, and Bagley is the brooding loner.
However, Wendy is an independent female who's not afraid to invite a man to a party or ask to lead when they dance.
The plot revolves around these romantic interests and Bagley's attempt to save Bridget and the other inhabitants of the pond from the preying osprey.
Bagley hatches a plan to move the bird's nest and nearly sacrifices his life carrying it out.
He and Bridget meet one last time, and she says she realizes that what's on the inside is more important than the outside.
But, she and Bagley cannot be together.
Marcellino's soft, pencil illustrations, in both color and black and white, are drawn from exciting perspectives, much like his picture books.
The book is handsomely designed with its choice of typeface and layout.
Unfortunately, the charming illustrations are not enough to carry this melodramatic story.
Unlike Charlotte's Web or The Wind in the Willows, these creatures are anthropomorphized without regard for their animal personalities and characteristics, and they serve only to carry the author's less-than-subtle message.Cheri Estes, Dorchester Road Regional Library, Charleston, SCCopyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Booklist

4-6, younger for reading aloud.
Bagley Brown, Jr., a good-looking weasel (despite an eye patch), is Wainscott Woods' resident eccentric.
He has never recovered from his famous father's untimely death, nor his mother's passing shortly thereafter.
When he develops a crush on a beautiful bass (fish, that is), he is destined for the heartbreak only unrequited love can bring.
But when the fish pond is threatened by drought and an osprey, he proves that blood runs true as he goes to heroic lengths to save his beloved.
This well-realized fantasy has everything a reader could want: adventure, humor, and style.
Depth is added by a bittersweet conclusion, illustrated with a particularly poignant picture.
The art is one of the book's high points, and throughout, the text is enhanced by Marcellino's beautifully rendered color and black-and-white illustrations, which combine with the overall design to make this a handsome piece of bookmaking as well as a good book to read.
Janice Del Negro

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Kirkus Reviews

In the gentle spirit of Seidler's A Rat's Tale (1986), a fantasy set on eastern Long Island in a well-established woodland community of weasels. 
Introspective, aristocratic Bagley Brown misses his chance of winning lovely Wendy Blackish while dreaming of Bridget--a wise, beautiful fish who sends him away because their relationship can come to nought.
While Wendy dances (to the music of birds and crickets) with rough Zeke Whitebelly, and eventually agrees to marry him if she can lead sometimes, Bagley dutifully avoids Bridget.
He agrees to be ``Best Weasel'' at Wendy's wedding but doesn't show up: ingeniously, and heroically, he's transporting the nest of an osprey (it's threatening Bridget) to another pond.
The author's animal society is wonderfully amusing and consistent, with entertainingly uneasy relationships between predators and their possible prey (the weasels snitch eggs from a handy farm, so they aren't particularly bloodthirsty), poking fun at human foibles in witty dialogue that's well grounded in animal nature.
The bittersweet end isn't wholly satisfying--lively Wendy seems too subtle for inarticulate Zeke--but Bagley's philosophical acceptance of Bridget's going to sea right after she seeks him out and agrees to be friends is right in character.
Twenty-one of the 50 elegantly rendered illustrations are in full color; Marcellino's gracious compositions, delicate modeling, and amiable characterizations are in perfect tune with the engagingly imaginative story.
9-12) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP.
All rights reserved.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.


Compared to Charlotte's Web by the New York Times: "It's just possible that not since a spider named Charlotte saved a pig named Wilbur has there been a more tender tale of interspecies love and devotion." (The New York Times Book Review)"Seidler's animal society is wonderfully amusing and consistent...Marcellino's gracious compositions, delicate modeling, and amiable characterizations are in perfect tune with the engagingly imaginative story." (Kirkus Reviews)"A dry wit inspires Seidler's characterizations, which are original and at the same time respectful of animal nature. 
Marcellino enhances and even extends teh beguiling ambiance with his exceptionally expressive art." (Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW)"Surely one of the finest novels of the year, Seidler's fresh, inventive fantasy of a weasel-in-love, and his deeds of derring-do, will delight all readers.
This is not to be missed." (The Seattle Times)

About the Author

Tor Seidler is the critically acclaimed and bestselling author of more than a dozen children’s books, including Firstborn, The Wainscott Weasel, A Rat’s Tale, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, Gully’s Travels, and most notably Mean Margaret, which was a National Book Award Finalist. 
He lives in New York, New York.Fred Marcellino, the renowned and beloved artist and illustrator, won a Caldecott Honor for his first full-color picture book, Puss in Boots.
He began his career in children’s literature with Tor Seidler’s A Rat’s Tale in 1985, and followed with many other classics such as I, Crocodile and The Steadfast Tin Soldier.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Wainscott Weasel  THE WAINSCOTT WOODS Most weasels have to devote nearly all their waking hours to hunting—but not in Wainscott. 
In Wainscott, weasels are blessed with free time.
During the winter these lucky creatures take a lot of long naps.
Once the weather warms up, they dance.
Wainscott used to be about the sleepiest spot on the South Fork of Long Island.
A few farms, some woods, and the beach—that was it.
But thanks to what human beings call “development,” the farms have been shrinking, their fields gobbled up by summer houses.
The woods have shrunk, too, for the same reason.
Still, the Wainscott woods haven’t disappeared completely.
And tucked away in the middle of the scrub oaks there remains a fine old stand of pines.
These pines are forever shedding their needles, and the needles make the ground an excellent dance floor: slick as can be, perfect for sliding and gliding.
Since dancing is ridiculous without music, the weasels’ dance season didn’t usually start till May, when the songbirds fly in from the south.
But one year the warm weather and the birds arrived a month early.
So the weasels were able to have their First Spring Cotillion in April.
After a winter without dancing, the first cotillion was always an irresistible event, and this year, as usual, weasels from the newer Wainscott families arrived under the pines early, before four o’clock.
They squealed happily along with the birds, pounding the needles with their paws.
Weasels from the older families arrived later and stood around talking quietly among themselves.
But even they couldn’t keep their eyes from shining and their tails from twitching.
Of all the weasels under the pines on that warm April afternoon, the noisiest and most rambunctious were probably the five Whitebelly brothers.
The Whitebellys were strapping young weasels with blazing white underbellies.
The oldest, and strappingest, was Zeke.
Zeke was the best dancer, too.
In fact, he tended to be a bit of a showoff.
If there was a lull in the music, for example, he would do a back flip.
But he could twirl a pretty young weasel till her head spun.
The two weasels Zeke had most enjoyed twirling last season were both, it so happened, at the First Spring Cotillion.
This was nice, in a way, but in another way it made Zeke’s life complicated.
Dancing with Sally Spots was fun, but while he was out on the needles with her it was hard not to notice the scowl on Mary Lou Silverface’s pale, pretty face.
And as soon as he switched to Mary Lou, Sally crossed her forepaws and marched away.
After a while Zeke excused himself from Mary Lou and joined his brothers at the edge of the needles.
“Benny boy,” he said.
“Be a pal and ask Sally to dance, will you?” “Sure thing, Zeke” said Ben, the secondoldest Whitebelly.
“Where is she?” “I think she’s over behind—” Behind the big stump, Zeke was about to say, but his jaw had dropped.
Seated on a root of the stump were the Blackishes, one of the grandest weasel couples in Wainscott.
Standing beside them was a young weasel with radiant black fur, miraculously closeset, sparkly eyes, and a bluejay feather tucked behind one ear.
“Who’s she?” Zeke asked, gaping.
“Search me,” said Ben.
Zeke turned to his brother Bill.
“Search me,” Bill said.
“Search us, too,” said the two youngest Whitebellys, who were twins.
Just then Mary Lou drifted over.
“Zeeeeke,” she whined.
“I thought we were dancing.” Zeke didn’t seem to hear her.
“Hey, Zeke,” Ben said, elbowing him.
“Mary Lou’s talking to you.” “Huh?” “Mary Lou’s talking to you.” But by then Mary Lou had seen what Zeke was gawking at.
She turned and stomped off.
“Jeez,” Zeke said.
“Go ask her to dance, will you, Ben?” “But you just told me to ask Sally.” “Oh, yeah.
Billy, you go ask Mary Lou.
Okay?” “Anything you say, Zeke,” said Bill.
“How about us?” chimed the twins.
“You boys keep your tails crossed for me,” Zeke said.
The Blackishes had been in Wainscott far longer than the Whitebellys, but this didn’t keep Zeke from sauntering straight over to them.
“Hiya, Mr.
and Mrs.
Blackish,” he said.
“Great cotillion weather, huh?” “Lovely,” said Mrs.
“And to think it’s only April!” “I don’t like it,” Mr.
Blackish grumbled.
“This heat keeps up and the woods’ll be a tinderbox by July.” Mr.
Blackish didn’t much like this Whitebelly, either.
The brash young weasel hadn’t so much as tipped his cap to him and his wife.
“Hi,” Zeke said, smiling at the gorgeous stranger.
“Zeke Whitebelly.” “My niece, Wendy Blackish,” Mrs.
Blackish said.
“She’s down from the North Fork for the season.” Zeke’s eyes lit up.
He was still young enough for a season to seem like forever.
“Great feather, Wendy,” he said.
“Are they big up there?” “Actually, I just found it this morning,” Wendy confessed, her snout blushing a little.
“How do you like Wainscott?” Zeke asked.
“Oh, I love it!” she said.
“The sea breezes, the eggs, all the free time . . .
it’s heaven!” “You don’t have free time and eggs up there on the North Fork?” They certainly didn’t—any more than they had weasels as handsome and muscular as this Zeke.
“We don’t have a Double B,” Wendy explained, trying not to stare at Zeke’s fine white belly.
“So, you like our eggs,” Zeke said with a grin.
“Me and my brothers do Double B duty all the time.” The Double B was famous even up on the North Fork.
It was a remarkable tunnel that ran the quarter mile from the edge of the Wainscott woods to the chicken coop on the McGees’ farm.
“Is it dark inside?” Wendy asked.
“You bet,” Zeke said.
“It’s black as a crow in there.” “It must be hard work, rolling eggs.” “Mm,” Zeke said, flexing his muscles.
“And the farmer never misses them?” “We’ve got a system.
We go at dawn, before Mrs.
McGee comes to collect the eggs, and we never touch a feather on the chickens—yummy as they look.
There’s zillions of them, and they lay eggs like it’s going out of style, but we never take more than a few dozen—just enough to feed us.” “Hm,” Wendy said.
“Does the Wainscott weasel’s son roll eggs, too?” “The who?” “The Wainscott weasel’s son.” “What do you mean?” Zeke said, frowning.
“We’re all Wainscott weasels around here.” “She means Bagley Brown,” Mrs.
Blackish said.
“Up on the North Fork he’s just called the Wainscott weasel,” Wendy explained.
“He’s the only one anybody’s heard of.
I’ve been here a whole week and I still haven’t seen his son yet.” “Young Bagley doesn’t socialize much,” Mrs.
Blackish said.
Blackish humphed.
“I told you I’d introduce you as soon as our paths cross, Wendy.
I knew his father well.” Mr.
Blackish always held his head high, but as he spoke of his acquaintance with Bagley Brown his nose rose a notch higher.
Bagley Brown was the greatest name in all weaseldom—revered far and wide.
It was he who was responsible for the wondrous Double B.
In fact, Double B stood for Bagley Brown.
The great weasel was now dead.
Or so weasels said.
His body had never actually been found, and some believed he’d simply gone off in search of new challenges.
In either case, his legend burned as brilliantly as ever, and since the moment of her arrival in Wainscott, Wendy had been dying to catch a glimpse of his son, Bagley Brown Jr.
In fact, Bagley Jr.
was the reason she’d stuck the feather behind her ear.
She’d assumed he would be at the cotillion.
But so far there was no sign of him.
“Bagley rolls eggs sometimes,” Zeke told her.
“But not as much as me.
And he dances like an old groundhog.” “How would you know?” Mr.
Blackish said.
“You’ve got to see well to dance,” Zeke said.
“ ’Specially if you throw in flips.
But Bagley always has to wear that stupid eye patch of his, to set himself apart.” “Doesn’t he have a bad eye?” Wendy asked.
He only started wearing it after his father died.” “It’s a mark of mourning,” Mr.
Blackish said.
“And even if it is a bit of an affectation, it’s hardly for the likes of you to question it.” “What’s an affectation, Uncle?” Wendy asked.
“Oh, it means . . .
putting on airs a bit.
Heaven knows, he deserves to be set apart—out of respect for his father.
And as far as dancing goes, I suspect he just doesn’t care for it.” “But all young weasels like to dance,” Zeke said.
“What do you mean?” said Wendy.
“I’ve never danced in my life.” “You’re kidding!” She shook her head.
“This is the first dance I’ve ever been to.” “Then it’s about time you got out on the needles,” Zeke said, extending a paw.
Wendy felt a pleasant whir of excitement.
“But I don’t know how,” she said.
“I’ll show you.
Anyhow, all weasels can dance.
It’s in our blood.” “Well . . .
is it all right?” Mr.
Blackish looked less than thrilled at the idea of his niece dancing with an upstart weasel who didn’t even tip his cap.
But Mrs.
Blackish smiled and said, “Go ahead, dear.” So Zeke led Wendy out onto the dance floor.
At that moment the beat was quick.
A couple of catbirds were really going at it up in the pines.
But, as Zeke said, all weasels can dance, and in no time Wendy was whirling around as if she’d been doing it all her life.
Mary Lou Silverface, who was dancing with Zeke’s brother Bill, shot her a pitchdark look, as did Sally Spots, who was dancing with Ben.
But Wendy didn’t notice.
She was too busy trying not to stare at Zeke’s handsome belly.
When he suddenly did a back flip, her heart did one, too.
But after a while she began to feel a little flushed.
“Thank you, Zeke,” she said, stopping.
Zeke looked around.
and Mrs.
Blackish were no longer by the stump.
“You’re a real natural, Wendy,” he said, leading her back there.
“I was ghastly,” she said happily.
“But it is fun.” “Isn’t it the best? We’ve got to do it again soon.” “Well . . .
my aunt said something about a tea dance at the Tantails’ on Sunday.
Are you going to that?” The Tantails were very exclusive and hadn’t asked the Whitebellys.
Normally Zeke wouldn’t have minded a bit—at exclusive parties weasels always talked more than they danced—but just now he minded a lot.
“I wasn’t invited,” he muttered.
Wendy gulped, afraid she’d been tactless.
“Oh,” she said.
“Wait here a minute, will you?” “Sure,” Zeke said agreeably.
Wendy searched for her aunt and uncle behind the big stump, but all she found there was a rabbit, who turned his cottontail and fled.
Wendy climbed the stump.
From on top of it, she spotted her aunt and uncle chatting with a pair of elderly weasels on the other side of the dance floor.
She climbed back down and walked over to them.
The way her uncle sniffed at the sight of her made her suspect she’d worked up a musky odor on the dance floor.
She would have to take a quick bath in the brook.
After being introduced to the elderly couple, she drew her aunt aside.
“Don’t you have an extra invitation to that tea dance on Sunday, Aunt?” Mrs.
Blackish laughed softly.
“I suppose you have someone in mind?” “Well . . .” “It’s at home.
Just inside the front entrance.” She smiled.
“He is quite a dancer, dear.” Wendy had always been quick on her paws, and it took her only a couple of minutes to get back to the Blackishes’ lovely old den.
The invitation was just inside, as her aunt had said.
It was a scrap of paper stamped with Mrs.
Tantail’s left front pawprint in aged wineberry juice.
Holding a corner of it between her teeth, Wendy hurried off to the brook for a quick bath.
In spite of the warm weather, the oak trees weren’t fully leafed out yet, so she kept to the underbrush in case a hawk was circling overhead.
As she popped out of some brambles, she bumped right into another weasel.
“I’m so sorry!” she said, the invitation falling from her mouth.
“Is there a fox on your tail?” said the other, stepping between her and the brambles to protect her.
“Oh, no, I was just . . .
just . . .” Her voice died away.
The stranger had turned from the brambles to her.
“Are you all right, miss?” Wendy was not all right.
She felt decidedly faint.
The weasel standing before her had sleek brown fur and a patch over one eye.


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Comment List (Total:13)

  •     Not a favorite with seven year old grandson.

  •     I found The Wainscott Weasel while searching for chapter books appropriate to read a 4 year old. Ours was definitely very into it.

  •     Love this story!

  •     Gotta love the illustrator but better to pass on this story, which features gory violence, family tragedy and inter-species love.

  •     I must admit that when I started this book I wasn't sure if I really wanted to read about a weasel who falls in love with a fish. Come on, that's pushing the envelop a bit!

  •     A wonderful yarn, author combines a little suspense, authentic points of view about what life is like for a weasel, it had a very touching ending.Bagley Brown Jr.

  •     It comes off slightly old fashioned, but it is a very charming tale about relationships between different animals, sometimes of other species. Some of the relationships are unexpected, as is the course of the story as a whole. I found it very interesting, but this is my genre so to speak. I don't want to spoil the story, so I will leave it at that. It is one of my favourites.

  •     I was buying this book as a gift for one of my grandsons. It was marked good. I don't consider it good. The front cover had a big crease all the way down it and the corner was creased. Then the back cover had been creased. The pages were fine, though.

  •     A charming classic story for all ages! I have given this very special book to children and to adults as gifts! It reminds me of Roald Dahl's "children's" book, Fantastic Mr. Fox, another bewitching, delightful book, easily cherished by all who love animals. I wish both authors would write another book!!

  •     My son who is 9 now loves this book. He checked it out of the school library at the end of 2nd Grade. He loved it so much as soon as summer was over and he started 3rd grade he checked it out again...and twice more during the year. Then he started asking for it for his birthday. I haven't read it myself, but this is my son who is more hesitant to read than his older sister. He really has to like a book to read it, and must LOVE it to read it more than once.

  •     A wonderful book with wonder filled writing and incredible illustrations.

  •     This book has been a quotable family favorite for years. I bought copies for my children to take with them.

  •     This is a great book, especially for readers who enjoy Animal Fantasy. People who like Redwall and similar series should definitely check this out.


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