I’m not four-years-old, but I learned something from this sweet short story about Baby Jack — written by my friend Jim Strickler.

I learned:
• That a mother jackrabbit scrapes out a smooth spot under a sagebrush and lines it with her own fur as a place where she can give birth in private and comfort.
• That the desert has “many wonderful sounds: the songs of a meadowlark, the barking of a prairie dog, and the ‘hooooo’ of the wind blowing across the dry land.”
• That, during the heat of the day, a jackrabbit rests in a clump of brown grass where his fur blends in with the grass and the sandy soil so that “hungry coyotes and eagles that are hunting for food cannot see him easily.”
• That jackrabbits have developed a way to chew a hole in a cactus in order to avoid “the prickly spines on the outside” and get at “the moist part inside.”
• That a mother jackrabbit alerts her children to the presence of a coyote or other danger by “pounding one of her back paws against the hard ground.”

I enjoyed Baby Jack’s joy at the departure of a coyote. “He tenses his powerful leg muscles. Then — whoosh — he is off! He bounds away to meet up with his family.”

This thin book was originally published in 1995, and it has been re-issued at least two other times. Alas, my own children were too old to have benefited from it when it came out.

Although, now that I think of it, they might still learn a lot from reading it.

And who knows? Maybe at some future date, a grandchild will learn something too — and enjoy Baby Jack’s joy as well.

Patrick T. Reardon

Written by : Patrick T. Reardon

For more than three decades Patrick T. Reardon was an urban affairs writer, a feature writer, a columnist, and an editor for the Chicago Tribune. In 2000 he was one of a team of 50 staff members who won a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting. Now a freelance writer and poet, he has contributed chapters to several books and is the author of Faith Stripped to Its Essence. His website is https://patricktreardon.com/.

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