June 27, 2006

DT Bizarre Book Contest: The Velveteen Rabbit, Awkwardly Abridged Version

velveteen_bunny.jpgTitle: The Velveteen Rabbit
Author/Illustrator: Margery Williams, William Nicholson
Reviewed by: Lisa

I just read a heavily edited, paperback version of the Velveteen Rabbit, likely purchased from a Mega-Lo Mart (a gift from a well-meaning, but cheap, relative). Can't say for sure I've ever read the real thing.

Stuffed bunny is ignored; stuffed horse tells stuffed bunny he can become real (how does the horse know - he's still stuffed?); boy loves stuffed bunny; real bunnies make fun of stuffed bunny; boy gets sick (consumption or some other 1920's malady, I guess); doctor tells nanny to burn the bunny! Bunny sheds a tear and becomes real bunny. The nanny (no mommy or daddy) and the mean doctor who wants to kill the bunny are just weird. Of course, burning toys was the disinfection method of choice back in the day, but the presentation is just wacky.

I think the problem may be that I was not reading the real book, but a cheap knockoff. Perhaps the real book doesn't come across so harsh?

{We have at least two board books, a Peter Rabbit and The Little Engine That Could with narratives that're so garbled, it's like William Borroughs took an Exacto knife to them. The moral here is: steer clear of reformatted classics, and just do the editing yourself as you read it. -ed.]


I had the same thing happen with "The Velveteen Rabbit". I had the book when I was young, and in it the boy gets Scarlet Fever (it took place in the 1920s), and the rabbit is supposed to be burned, but he sheds a tear that grows a fairy that turns the stuffed rabbit into a real one.

HOWEVER, the board book I ordered for my son when I was pregnant starts with the stuffed rabbit being mocked by real rabbits, the boy gets "sick" and all of his toys need to be thrown away. It shows the bunny in a trash can when the fairy comes and turns him real. There were a few more points from my original that I know are different, but it's been so long I can't remember it exactly. I guess the whole "burning" thing was deemed too much for young kids to deal with. But it is weird. And my son's copy says right on it that's it's abridged. It had also been placed in modern times rather than the twenties.

No the story is accurate, it is only the quality of the graphics and binding that suffer from the mega lo mart quality.

Some stories just to do not age well. And I think this is one of them... but for some reason this story continues to endure.

Oh, I love this book, I still have my old copy, along with The Rabbits Wedding and Corduroy. It's harsh,but that's what I loved about it.

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