Sunday, 6 February 2011

Just Finished Reading: The Velveteen Rabbit

Isn't it funny how things sometimes stick in your head? I first remember hearing about The Velveteen Rabbit yonks ago on the US sitcom 'Friends'. A quick bit of research suggests that this may have been deeper into the dim, distant past than I'd thought.  The episode in question was first broadcast in 1997, when I was a mere nipper in my early thirties.

The gist of the plot went thus.  Chandler is secretly in love with his flatmate, Joey's, girlfriend.  He gets her an early edition of this book as it's her childhood favourite, but instead of giving it to her himself, he lets Joey have it, to replace the crappy present he's bought her.

Another bit of rooting around the annuls of the Internet suggests that this might have been quite a costly gift.   This Guardian article  from 2006 suggests that a first edition of this book might now be worth more than £5,000.  Why is such a high value accredited to  a book published in 1922, that certainly in the UK, doesn't have anywhere near the recognition of Winnie the Pooh, another children's book from the same era?  I think I've found the answer.

The story of a small boy who makes his toy rabbit 'real' is an absolute corker and once read will be forever remembered.  Both Louis and I are entralled. It's a beautifully illustrated timeless tale and I was astonished when I found out how long ago it was written.  This is such a good candidate for a story that needs to be brought back to the attention of a contemporary reading audience.  Then again, think what Disney did to Pooh, throwing aside the charming drawings of E.H. Shepard and coming up with its own version of the unfortunate bear, akin to a weak entry made from a misshapen yellow pepper in a vegetable sculpture competition!  Perhaps, on reflection, it's better that the bunny and the boy are left alone in their relative obscurity.

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