This book was first published in Great Britain in 1922. It is lovely to see that magic and wonder is still appreciated in today’s world of realism. Hopefully a whole new group of children will be entertained and become thoughtful about issues in the story. For today’s child, a nursery with a Nana may not be the most relevant topic, but the love of a toy and reflection later as to what happened to that toy, will always be relevant. Although this is a story for younger children, it is quite lengthy, and may take a few sittings to complete.
The story deals with a toy rabbit who is given to a boy as a Christmas present. After a short time of playing with the rabbit, the boy leaves him and plays with other toys. The rabbit is lonely and many of the other toys are unfriendly. A toy horse talks to the rabbit, who wants to know what it is to be REAL. The horse assures him that if the boy plays with him continuously and they become inseparable, he will feel real. One day, the Nana who tidies the nursery, picks up the rabbit and takes him to the boy who is going to bed.
From that time on the boy and the rabbit spend all day and night together. The rabbit is very happy, and is very loved by the boy. The rabbit gradually becomes shabbier, but no one cares, the rabbit does indeed feel real. After a wonderful time together, the boy becomes ill. The rabbit shares the boy’s bed, and is a great comfort to him. After a long convalescence, the doctor visits and gives orders that all the bedding and toys be burnt, to get rid of the germs from the boy’s illness. The rabbit is devastated, and when in a sack in the garden, he sheds a tear. The tear falls on the ground, and it is here that the magic of the story comes to the fore.
The ending is so delightful, and credible, that most children will take great comfort knowing what has happened to all their old toys. The language is not compromising and is logical and meaningful. Sentences like, “He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad,” will be understood by young children. As the rabbit accepts his fate, so do we. The illustrations are also delightful, reflecting another time and place, but gentle in colour and support of the story.
It is so lovely to see this book again for those of us who remembered it a long time ago.
|Author||Illustrated by Sarah Massini . Author Margery Winifred Williams|