Review Blog

Mar 31 2020

Peter Rabbit 2 movie novelisation

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Penguin, 2020. ISBN: 9780241415290. 152pp.
(Age: 8-12) Peter Rabbit 2 is a novelisation of the film Peter Rabbit 2. The adventure is set in contemporary countryside England and is loosely based on the famous Beatrix Potter characters. The animals cannot talk to humans but all understand them and the story is mainly from their point of view. Peter Rabbit has been sidelined from author/illustrator Bea's life when she marries Thomas McGregor. Thomas clashes with Peter, who he finds mischievous and annoying. Peter is unable to convince Thomas that he is well intentioned. When Peter meets a roguish friend of his late deceased father, he leaves home for a life of naughtiness. Peter involves his friends and family in a crazy operation to steal food from the town's market and unwittingly puts his animal friends in peril. At the same time Bea is being encouraged by her publisher to make her stories about the animals more saleable, with scenarios involving hoodies, surfing and space travel. She is enticed by the wealth and glamour that big sales may bring but Thomas disagrees with her new direction.
The film is packed full of slap stick, non-stop action and some quite adult jokes, as many children's films are. This doesn't always transfer well into the written word and I wonder if children will be engaged in the story if they haven't seen the film. This perfunctory retelling has occasions where the author has forgotten the child audience. Will they understand phrases like "conflate reality"? Readers who are faithful to the original stories may be horrified by the liberties taken with those dear little animals of Beatrix Potter's books. Ironically the film/book's message regarding the need to be faithful to the author's authentic representation of animals and not sell out to commercialism, is what the film is in fact doing. Film merchandise makes a lot of money and this book is one of many products created for the film's release.
Jo Marshall

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