Review Blog

Apr 13 2015

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Bianco

cover image

Ill. by Helene Magisson. New Frontier, 2015. ISBN 9781925059304
This classic story, first published in 1922, has once more been re-printed, this time featuring the gentle water colours of Helene Magisson to delight a new generation of readers and their parents, who will recall their own beloved toys.
The velveteen rabbit arrives in the nursery as a Christmas present but languishes in the toy cupboard where he made to feel 'very insignificant and commonplace' by other modern and mechanised toys and only befriended by the Skin Horse, a shabby, old, well loved and wiser toy. It is the Skin Horse who tells him about the nursery magic which happens when a toy is very much loved and becomes real in the eyes of the child who loves him.
It is only when Nana, who ruled the nursery, is too busy to find the Boy's favourite toy that the rabbit becomes his bedtime companion and favourite toy enjoying days playing in the garden and nights snuggled together in bed. It is only then that the Boy declares to Nana,
'He isn't a toy. He's REAL!' that the rabbit understands the magic of love.
But, later that summer when he meets some real rabbits, he realises that he isn't really real.
When the Boy becomes ill with Scarlet Fever, the rabbit is his constant companion until he is well. On the advice of the Doctor the shabby old rabbit is taken away to be burnt for harbouring germs. It is only then that a miracle occurs and the nursery fairy transforms the rabbit into a live rabbit.
A time honoured story of love beautifully illustrated with a cool blue/green palette which contrasts with the soft brown spotted rabbit. The toys in the nursery are not the modern variety as would be seen in the Toy Story movies but it would be great to compare the two stories both from a toy variety perspective but also from the emotions expressed by the toys being discarded.
Sue Keane

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