The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher and The Tale of Peter Rabbit

The TV generation may be shocked at the news, but Kermit the Frog was not the first of his species to discover it’s not easy being green. In the first of these Beatrix Potter stories, Mr. Jeremy Fisher demonstrates convincingly that amphibious maneuvers can be tough even if you’re not a Marine.

Mr. Fisher, who lives in a ”little damp house amongst the buttercups at the edge of a pond,” is a very proper frog, insistent on keeping up appearances at all costs. As illustrated by David Jorgensen in the video’s drawings, he is stuffy, regal — sort of an Arthur Treacher with webbed feet. Mr. Fisher’s eyelids droop, and he wears formal attire, even while fishing. Reader Meryl Streep chose to give Mr. Fisher’s voice a dash of haughtiness that seems just right with Jorgensen’s humorous sketches. She adds the appropriate element of shock to her voice when she describes how Mr. Fisher is gobbled up by a trout — only to be spat out because the trout doesn’t like the taste of Mr. Fisher’s mackintosh (another reason to always wear your raincoat).

Along with The Tale of Mr. Jeremy, purists will enjoy the Jorgensen-Streep version of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, the mischievous bunny with a penchant for home-grown produce. It’s a strict interpretation of the best known of Potter’s books. Lyle Mays, who supplies the music for both stories, offers jazzier accompaniment for Peter, which makes sense, given his more cavalier approach to life. A quibble: Mr. McGregor, the gardener who tries to capture Peter, wears a jaunty hat and stylish wire-rimmed glasses and sports a neatly trimmed beard and mustache. A guy who’s going to go after a rabbit with a rake ought to look more curmudgeonly and less like a model in an L.L. Bean ad. Still, this is a delightful retelling of a children’s classic — the story that proves it’s not always good to eat your vegetables. A-

The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher and The Tale of Peter Rabbit
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