I recently spotted The Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real by Margery Williams in a charity shop and snapped it up. It’s one of those children’s books that people often cite as one of their favourites, so I’ve been meaning to read it and see why it is so loved. Featuring the most beautiful illustrations by William Nicholson, the charming story and images combine to make reading this such a delight.
Opening sentence: There was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid.
A children’s picture book classic
Published in 1922, it has a plot that any viewers of Toy Story might be familiar with: toys that come to life after dark and speak to each other.
However, the main concern of The Velveteen Rabbit is to become Real. The rabbit is a Christmas present for a character known only as ‘the Boy’. The rabbit becomes much loved by the boy, so much so that his fur rubs off and he becomes a bit battered. Like all the best childhood toys.
This is the tale of how toys fall in and out of favour and what happens to them when they’re no longer in the child’s life.
The nursery magic had happened to him, and he was no longer a toy.
Written in such a beautiful way, it leaves both a lump in your throat and joy in your heart. The very best kind of children’s story. I absolutely understand its much-loved status.
And what beautiful illustrations by painter William Nicholson! They really do make or break a children’s picture book and as I was reading this, I was thinking how wonderful they would look as prints on the wall.
I have decided to add more reviews of classic children’s books into the mix on my blog. When I’m reading to my boys there are some stories – both old and newer – that are just so well done, I feel other parents and people who read stories to children need to know about them (if they don’t already). You can find them all here – more will be added as they come!
- Get your copy of The Velveteen Rabbit here;
- First published 1922;
- 43 pages;
- My rating: