I was astonished when I looked on the list on Susanna Hill's blog and The Velveteen Rabbit wasn't already listed as a perfect picture book. This book is a true classic.
As a mother, I've bought picture books for my kids. As a writer, I've bought picture books, new and old, to study. The Velveteen Rabbit is neither of these. I own The Velveteen Rabbit because it speaks to the child in me, as an adult. It is my book because I love it.
I first read The Velveteen Rabbit when I was a child. I don't remember exactly when I read it the first time, but I know I was younger than fourth grade. How do I know? Because when I was in the fourth grade I was part of a program where fourth graders read books to the kindergarten classes. And one week, I picked The Velveteen Rabbit. I was already in love with the story, and wanted to share it with my younger friends.
It's a perfect picture book. There's no reason not to share the book, right? Wrong!
As perfect a book as it is, it is NOT a great read aloud. It is a snuggle up close and breath in the magic story. Best read leisurely, with ample time to absorb the weight of the story and its emotions, The Velveteen Rabbit is a picture book that will be appreciated more as the reader grows. While the language is perfect for ages 4-8, the text is long, and may be appreciated more by the older more proficient readers at the top end of the target group. A box of tissues are always in order when I re-read this gem.
Title: The Velveteen Rabbit
Author: Margery Williams
Illustrator: William Nicholson
Publisher: HarperCollins (reissue) 1999
The book was originally published in 1922. This shows you what staying power a truly timeless story has! There are many other editions.You can even read it HERE as part of the Gutenberg Project.
Audience: publisher says it is for 4-8 years of age (but I believe the older a child is, the more they will enjoy the book)
Theme: The transformative power of love
Opening: “There was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid.”
becomes shabby, but when the boy's nanny tries to put the boy to bed without the rabbit
he puts up a fuss saying: "Give me my Bunny!. He isn't a toy. He's REAL!"
When the boy gets scarlet fever, the doctor says the toy must go--luckily the
rabbit escapes being burned and is tosses in the garden shed instead where a fairy
visits and turns the stuffed rabbit into a living, breathing, animal. The final two lines still
take my breath away:
"Why, he looks just like my old Bunny that was lost when I had scarlet fever!"
But he never knew that it really was his own Bunny, come back to look at the child who
had first helped him to be Real.
Activities/Resources:This book is so old and well-loved, you can find lots of things to do. I found pages of plays, (another play) and teacher's guides. The book is an excellent jumping off point for discussions about the true value of things. Is something new and shiny always better than something old? For a science lesson, children can talk about what it means to be alive. If you're creative, one of the cutest activities I found involved making rabbit cutouts for a math game. The game didn't catch my imagination but the rabbit playing pieces are adorable!
This review is part of Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books.
I hope you've all read this story--and now it's on the Perfect Picture Book list. A big thank-you to everyone who visited Susanna's blog on Wednesday to give me feedback on my own picture book pitch!