My son chose the first book for us to read together as a family in 2018: Pee-Wee Harris on the Trail, by Percy Keese Fitzhugh.
Back in November, after finishing Samuel Clemens’ The Prince and the Pauper, my son chose the first book in the series, Pee-Wee Harris, for Bedtime Story Time. The first of three 1920s era Pee-Wee Harris books that I purchased from the auction site Everything But the House , it told the story of a Boy Scout, Pee Wee Harris, and his summertime adventures in rural New Jersey with his adopted girl-cousin Pepsy. And while the book didn’t focus as much on scouting as I thought it would, since it was published with approval of the B.S.A. and featured the very boy scout that had starred for years in his own comic strip in the Boys’ Life magazine, it was still a worthwhile read, namely because it was humorous to my own thirteen-year-old boy scout.
The second book in the series, which we are reading now, appears to be a bit better written and the humor a bit less forced and a little less dated than that found in the first volume. And although it continues to make much about Pee-Wee’s insatiable appetite, vivid imagination and capacity for thoroughly bungling any situation, it is clear that the virtues of the scouts (trustworthiness, loyalty, helpfulness, friendliness, courteousness, kindness, obedience, cheerfulness, thriftiness, bravery, cleanness and reverence) and of good citizens, in general, are being championed throughout.
So while the book isn’t an award-winner and in many ways is a relic of days long past, I think it is shaping up to be a real fine comedy of errors with a message for children that should never go out of style. A good place to start in 2018.