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The Vine

The Tomato Nation advice column addresses your questions on etiquette, grammar, romance, and pet misbehavior. Ask The Readers about books or fashion today!

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The Vine: July 3, 2009

Submitted by on July 3, 2009 – 2:28 PM8 Comments

Hi Sars,

I've been wracking my brain for weeks, now, trying to remember this book I read when I was a little kid. I'm really at an impasse, as my memory of it is pretty patchy, and thought maybe your resourceful readers might have a go at it…

It was an illustrated book for young readers, maybe first- or second-grade level. It was in my elementary school's library in the early-to-mid '70s, if having a timeframe will help.

The protagonist was a young boy, who (for reasons I can't recall) dreams up animals — or possibly draws them. One was a chicken with additional legs, because he liked drumsticks; another was a weasel (?) with an extra set of legs on its back so that it could flip over and keep running when the first set got tired.

There were more animals but that's pretty much all I remember of it, and it's kind of driving me crazy. It was a weird little story and I'd really like to track it down to see if the illustrations are anything like I remember them.



Dear Carey,

That reminds me of the Tex Avery cartoon about hybrid creatures, with the half-chicken, half-pig animal with the toaster built into it so you could have bacon, eggs, and toast all from one source.

The book itself, I'm no help.Readers?

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  • Meredith says:

    Tex Avery's all I can come up with, too. "The Farm of Tomorrow' has a chicken crossed with a centipede for multiple drumsticks.

    Picture & video here:

  • Heqit says:

    heh. It reminds me a little bit of Roald Dahl's George's Marvelous Medicine — a lot of chicken mutation going on there — but I think that's not it. No weasels in the Dahl AFAIK.

  • Erra says:

    The weasle with the legs on it's back sounds familiar… could it be a Roald Dahl story? Were the illustrations of the Quentin Blake type? (RD's illustrator).

  • Allison says:

    It reminds me of Rainbow Soup: Adventures in Poetry, by Brian P. Cleary. But that was published in 2004.

  • Emma says:

    This actually doesn't ring any bells for me, but I posted a query for it over at which has a very active book sleuth community. If anybody bites I'll comment with their suggestions.

  • Kristen says:

    I think I can almost picture the book that you're talking about… I remember the weasel creature. Was it a rhyming story? Could it have been Dr. Seuss's "If I Ran the Zoo"?

  • Cat_slave says:

    The animal that flips over sounds like Münchhausen to me, in the third chapter of The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolph Erich Raspe you have a hare with two sets of legs. I just loved that book as a kid, I should reread it:-)

  • Carey says:

    Hi, original question-submitter here…

    I'm glad this memory rings a bell for at least a few other people! I was starting to think I imagined it.

    Kristen, I don't think it was a rhyming story, and it definitely wasn't "If I Ran The Zoo". As I remember it, the little boy protagonist was editing existing animals, not inventing purely mythological ones.

    It was definitely a short-ish story with the emphasis on the illustrations, and definitely not wordy enough to be Munchausen. I'd guess the intended audience was a bit too old for Seuss, but still a bit young for Munchausen.

    Jeez, if I do ever figure out this book, I sure hope it ends up being worth all this head-wracking! I appreciate the help, all.

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