Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Let's Get Literary - The Velveteen Rabbit

The Velveteen Rabbit

Margery Williams, 1922

Hello Bunnies!

I feel like I've strayed a little bit from blogging responsibilities, and while I'm STILL working on Oil! for March's Book Club Meeting, I'm going to share a few other things with you before that post is completed.

From my last post, you now know that the eternally fabulous Stephanie is going to bring another Little Lady into the mix.  While I proceeded to go out of my mind in shopping for clothes, because, really, how could I not?  I also found myself at Barnes and Noble.  I LOVE books and I think that growing up with a big library is essential for children.  So, I have taken it upon myself to build one for this Little Lady.

Enter The Velveteen Rabbit.

I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but I never read this children's classic before purchasing it for the baby shower.  One of my best friends got married a few years back and her brother read an excerpt from this book during the ceremony and, without knowing the exact context, I cried.  Hard.  So, once I brought this home, I decided to read it before signing and wrapping it.  This little book is only 40 pages, but the emotion and intensity that is packed into those 40 pages of this children's book is really quite spectacular!

If you've never read it before, keep in mind that you will absolutely need to sit down with a box of tissue to get through it.  I bawled like a was to the point that I had to set the book down, sob for a minute, attempt to pull myself together, scold myself for being affected THIS deeply, read a few more pages, and repeat the process.  It's not that the story is tragic, but it's told so beautifully and really drills down to the core of what life is all about - loving and being loved in return.

'For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand it all.
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day...
"Real isn't how you are made, " said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
'Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up, " he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen at all once," said the Skin Horse, "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily...Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
The Rabbit sighed. He thought it would be a long time before this magic called Real happened to him. 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. He wished that he could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to him.'

One of the most profound lessons for a little girl to learn is that, no matter what she looks like, she is beautiful and that those who truly love her, do not do so because of her physical appearance.  It's such a powerful thing to have instilled within you growing up in this image-obsessed culture!  '...the little Rabbit grew very old and shabby, but the Boy loved him just as much. He loved him so hard that he loved all his whiskers off, and the pink lining to his ears turned grey, and his brown spots faded. He even began to lose his shape, and he scarcely looked like a rabbit any more, except to the Boy. To him he was always beautiful, and that was all that that little Rabbit cared about. He didn't mind how he looked to other people, because the nursery magic had made him Real, and when you are Real shabbiness doesn't matter.'

Not only does the Rabbit become Real because of how deeply the Boy loves him, but the Rabbit loves the Boy in return.  He loves him enough to sacrifice of himself for what the Boy needs.  'And then, one day, the Boy was ill. His face grew very flushed, and he talked in his sleep, and his little body was so hot that it burned the Rabbit when he held him close. Strange people came and went in the nursery, and a light burned all night and through it all the little Velveteen Rabbit lay there, hidden from sight under the bedclothes, and he never stirred, for he was afraid that if they found him some one might take him away, and he knew that the Boy needed him.'

Once I finished reading, I knew that I also needed to gift a Velveteen Rabbit - so that's also been added to the 'next time' category of shopping for the baby.  It's not that I don't have oodles of time...she hasn't even arrived!  So, with that in mind, my book purchases for the baby shower started small, but I already have quite a long list of books for her library.  The other two that I bought were Grimm's Fairy Tales because everyone should know the classics and The Very Hungry Caterpillar because I remember this from when I was a kid - and also because a very visual book about becoming a butterfly is appealing to every little girl!

So yes, I just reviewed a children's book.  But really, if you've never read this, you must do so immediately.  And if this one doesn't make you feel something, perhaps you, yourself, are not Real.

Happy Reading (and sobbing), Bunnies!

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