The Tale of Mr. Tod is a children's fantasy story by the British author and illustrator Beatrix Potter. It was first published in 1912. It is a sequel to Potter's 1909 book The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies and features characters who first appeared in The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902) and The Tale of Benjamin Bunny (1904). The Tale of Mr. Tod is one of Beatrix Potter's longer stories. It was originally published in a larger format than was normal for Potter's children's books with more illustrations, sixteen in color and forty-two in black and white. Unlike the majority of Beatrix Potter's works, The Tale of Mr. Tod has traditionally appealed more to boys than to girls.
The plot is set in motion when Benjamin Bunny and his wife Flopsy go out and leave their seven baby rabbits in the care of Benjamin's father Old Mr. Bouncer. The badger Tommy Brock, although he has been known to eat rabbits, is a friend of Old Mr. Bouncer. Old Mr. Bouncer invites Tommy Brock into his home. When Old Mr. Bouncer falls asleep, Tommy Brock takes advantage of the situation. He puts the seven baby rabbits in a sack and carries them away, intending to eat them later. Benjamin Bunny sets off to rescue his children. He and his cousin Peter Rabbit track Tommy Brock down to one of the homes of the fox Mr. Tod. Mr. Tod and Tommy Brock hate each other. When Mr. Tod arrives at his home and finds Tommy Brock squatting there, a fight ensues.
The character of Mr. Tod also features prominently in Beatrix Potter's children's book The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots, which was written in 1914 but was not published until 2016.
The Tale of Mr. Tod has been adapted for radio and television.
Mr. Tod is a fox. All of the rabbits are afraid of him, partly because they do not know in which part of the countryside he will appear next. Mr. Tod has six different homes in different parts of the countryside. Tommy Brock often squats in Mr. Tod's unoccupied homes.
Tommy Brock is a badger. He and Mr. Tod hate each other. Even though he sometimes eats small rabbits, Tommy Brock is on very friendly terms with the rabbit Old Mr. Bouncer.
Old Mr. Bouncer lives with son Benjamin Bunny and his daughter-in-law Flopsy. Benjamin and Flopsy have recently had seven babies. One day, Benjamin and Flopsy go out and leave Old Mr. Bouncer to look after the seven baby rabbits. While Old Mr. Bouncer is sitting outside in the sun, he sees Tommy Brock approaching. Tommy Brock is looking for food, he is carrying traps to catch moles, a small shovel and a sack. Old Mr. Bouncer invites Tommy Brock inside for some cake and wine. The two sit and smoke. Old Mr. Bouncer falls asleep in his chair. When he wakes up, he finds that Benjamin and Flopsy have returned. Tommy Brock has gone and the seven baby rabbits are missing.
Although Old Mr. Bouncer denies having had any visitors, the strong smell of badger in Benjamin Bunny's home indicates that Tommy Brock has been there. Benjamin Bunny sets off to rescue his children. He follows Tommy Brock's tracks without much difficulty. He passes by a house made of sticks that belongs to Mr. Tod. Noises from inside the house indicate that Mr. Tod is at home.
Benjamin Bunny sees his cousin Peter Rabbit. Benjamin explains what has happened to his children. Peter says that he saw Tommy Brock carrying a sack, which he said was full of caterpillars. Tommy Brock offered to pass on a message to Peter's sister Cottontail because he would be passing by her home. Peter Rabbit says that, since Mr. Tod is in his stick house, Tommy Brock has probably gone to one of Mr. Tod's other homes, at the top of a hill called Bull Banks at the other end of the wood. He also says that, since Tommy Brock has already eaten that day, he probably plans to have the seven baby rabbits for breakfast the following morning. The two rabbits continue to follow Tommy Brock's tracks. Cottontail tells them that she saw the badger carrying a sack.
It is early evening by the time that Benjamin Bunny and Peter Rabbit reach Mr. Tod's home at the top of Bull Banks. Looking through the kitchen window, the two rabbits see a table laid in preparation for a meal. They do not, however, see the baby rabbits. Looking through the bedroom window, Benjamin and Peter see Tommy Brock asleep in Mr. Tod's bed. Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny try without success to force open the kitchen window. They eventually notice that when they rattle the kitchen window, the iron door on an old-fashioned brick oven rattles in reply. They realize that the seven baby rabbits are still alive and are inside the oven.
Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny decide to dig a tunnel under Mr. Tod's house to get to the kitchen. It is morning by the time that they have completed it. The two rabbits emerge into the sunshine outside Mr. Tod's house. They then hear Mr. Tod approaching. They foolishly decide to hide by going back inside the tunnel and under Mr. Tod's kitchen floor.
Mr. Tod is in a bad mood because he was not able to get much food the night before. As usual, he has decided to cheer himself up by moving house. Mr. Tod goes inside his home on the top of Bull Banks. He sees the table that an intruder has laid in preparation for a meal. He can smell a strong smell of badger. Fortunately for Peter and Benjamin, the smell of badger is so strong that it masks the smell of rabbit. Mr. Tod goes into his bedroom. He sees Tommy Brock lying in his bed and snoring loudly, apparently fast asleep.
With a lot of difficulty, Mr. Tod hangs a pail full of water tied to a rope over the bed. The other end of the rope is tied to a tree outside the bedroom window. Mr. Tod plans to untie the rope and make the pail full of water fall on top of Tommy Brock's head. In spite of appearances, however, Tommy Brock is half awake and is fully aware of what Mr. Tod is doing. When Mr. Tod leaves the bedroom, Tommy Brock gets up. He puts a rolled up robe in the bed. He then goes to the kitchen to make some tea. He does not yet feel inclined to cook the baby rabbits.
Mr. Tod cannot untie the rope that is tied to the tree. He has to bite through it, which takes him twenty minutes. When he has finally bitten through the rope, he hears the sound of the pail falling onto the bed and rolling onto the floor. He does not, however, hear any screams. Mr. Tod goes to the bedroom window and looks inside. He sees the shape of the damp and flattened robe inside his bed. He is delighted because he thinks that he has killed Tommy Brock. Mr. Tod walks in through the kitchen door. He sees Tommy Brock alive and dry with a cup of tea in his hand. Tommy Brock throws the hot tea in Mr. Tod's face. A savage fight ensues, during which most of the kitchen is destroyed. Mr. Tod and Tommy Brock eventually tumble out of the open door and roll down the hill, still fighting as they go.
Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny go into Mr. Tod's kitchen. They take the sack containing the seven baby rabbits out of the oven and drag it back to Benjamin Bunny's home. The seven baby rabbits are given something to eat and are put to bed.
At dinner, Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny tell the tale of their adventure to Flopsy and Old Mr. Bouncer, who has been forgiven for failing to protect the seven baby rabbits. Meanwhile, the fight between Mr. Tod and Tommy Brock continues.
An animated cartoon based on The Tale of Mr. Tod is presented in the ninth and final episode of the British anthology series The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends. It was first shown on BBC1 on June 21, 1995. In the episode, Mr. Tod is voiced by Dinsdale Landon. Don Henderson, an actor strongly associated with "tough guy" roles, voices Tommy Brock.
A fifteen-minute British radio play based on The Tale of Mr. Tod first aired on BBC Radio 4 on December 26, 2013 as part of the mini-series The Tales of Beatrix Potter.
- ↑ In The Tale of Mr. Tod, it is stated that Cottontail has gone to live on a hill after having married a black rabbit. One of the poems in Beatrix Potter's 1917 poetry anthology Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes is about the courtship of Cottontail by a little black rabbit.
- ↑ Bull Banks is the name of a field in the village of Near Sawrey, Cumbria which Beatrix Potter acquired when she purchased Castle Farm in 1909.
- ↑ Other episodes in the BBC radio mini-series The Tales of Beatrix Potter are based on The Tale of Pigling Bland, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck and The Tale of Ginger and Pickles.