Squirrel Goes Skating written by Alison Uttley and illustrated by Margaret Tempest (William Collins 1986, 1988). This is an abridged edition of the original story published in 1934.
Again, during this reading challenge, I am indulging in an old family favourite, revisiting Little Grey Rabbit, Squirrel, Hare, and their countryside friends. In this snowy story, the animals gather to go skating on the pond at Tom Tiddler’s Way. The entire neighbourhood takes skates and food and sets off to have a day of fun on the ice:
Everything was frozen. Even the brook, which ran past little Grey Rabbit’s house on the edge of the wood, was thick with ice. Each blade of grass had a white fringe, and the black, leafless trees were patterned with shining crystals.
On every window of the house were Jack Frost’s pictures – trees and ferns and flowers in silver.
At last they reached the pond, which lay in the centre of a small field. Already many animals were on the ice, and the air was filled with merry cries. The newcomers sat down and put on their skates. Grey Rabbit placed her basket of food in the care of Mrs Hedgehog, who sat on a log, watching her son, Fuzzypeg.
Soon they were laughing and shouting with the others, as they skimmed over the ice.
Hare tried to do the outside edge, and got mixed up with the skates of a white duck. He fell down with a thump and bruised his forehead.
After Grey Rabbit, Squirrel and Hare had enjoyed a picnic with their friends Water-rat, Moldy Warp, Mrs Hedgehog and Fuzzypeg:
They all returned to the ice and skated until the red sun set behind the hills. Dark shadows spread across the fields as the animals removed their skates and set off home.
“It has been a jolly day,” said Grey Rabbit to Water-rat and Moldy warp. “Good-bye. Perhaps we will come again tomorrow.”
“Goodnight. Goodnight,” resounded round the pond.
I cannot claim this to be a Christmas piece exactly but it fulfils our nostalgic longing for those snowy winters where we can play for a while and then go and snuggle at home afterwards. We can enjoy the thought of snow without actually getting our feet wet and cold! Alison Uttley used her own country childhood experiences in her stories so I am sure that she once went skating on her local pond (though possibly not with hares and ducks).