Rabbits

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A rich and haunting allegory of colonization for all ages and cultures, told from the viewpoint of native animals. This stunning picture book examines the consequences of the arrival of a group of rabbits with entirely unfamiliar ways. They bring new food and animals, and they make their own houses to live in, eventually dominating the environment and its other inhabitants. The parallels with our own experience are many: "They chopped down our trees and scared away our friends ...
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Overview

A rich and haunting allegory of colonization for all ages and cultures, told from the viewpoint of native animals. This stunning picture book examines the consequences of the arrival of a group of rabbits with entirely unfamiliar ways. They bring new food and animals, and they make their own houses to live in, eventually dominating the environment and its other inhabitants. The parallels with our own experience are many: "They chopped down our trees and scared away our friends and stole our children..."

Author Biography: John Marsden was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1950. In 1969 he began an Arts/Law Degree at the University of Sydney, but soon abandoned this for a series of exotic jobs. It was not until 1978 that he found a career which suited him: that of teaching. His first book, So Much to Tell You, was published in 1987. It won the 1988 Children's Book of the Year and the U.S.'s Christopher Medal, and was named Notable by the U.S. Library Association. After a few more books, he left teaching to write full time. Tomorrow When the War Began, published in 1994, was the first in a trilogy which has smashed sales records, but more importantly gripped the hearts and imaginations of young readers worldwide. After more than 25 books, he is arguably one of the best-known and best-respected novelists for young adults.

ILLSTRATORBIO: Award-winning artist and author Shaun Tan has achieved international recognition for his work, including the CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award for this book, an Honor Book Award for Memorial (with G. Crew) and The Lost Thing, an APA Design Award, an Honorable Mention at the Bologna Book Fair, three Aurealis Awards, and Spectrum Gold and Silver Awards. In 2001 he was named best artist at the World Fantasy Awards in Montreal. A graduate of the University of Washington in 1995, with honors in fine arts and English literature, he lives in Perth, Australia.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this sobering allegory of colonization, Napoleonic white rabbits subjugate a population of gentle brown marsupials. The lemur-like narrators live humbly in an arid region ("At first we didn't know what to think. They looked a bit like us"). They describe how the Rabbits, who wear military garb and have perfect straight-backed posture, arrive by sea in a metallic golden ship that bristles with sails and steaming iron pipes. The Rabbits carry black muskets and calibrated measuring devices. As the unclothed, rust-brown animals look on impotently, the red-eyed Rabbits brutally alter the landscape. Monstrous sheep graze on artificially green paddocks, and hills are cut away to accommodate highways. By the time the indigenous creatures rebel, in sepia battle scenes, "there were too many rabbits. We lost the fights." In the bleak conclusion, the speakers lament what has been lost: "Where is the rich dark earth brown and moist?... Where are the lakes, alive with long-legged birds?" YA writer Marsden (Tomorrow When the War Began) and illustrator Tan (The Red Tree), who live in Australia, describe a situation that readers on many continents can recognize (though, with the natives' pronouncement, "They stole our children," they make specific reference to their own continent's history). Marsden's concentrated prose leaves much of the storytelling to Tan's intricate, imaginative paintings, which recall the work of Peter S s in their complexity and moral compass. In the end, tempered by a nostalgic endpaper image of wading birds on a lake, readers are presented with the irrational violence and profound waste of imperial conquest. Ages 7-up. (Dec.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-8-An allegorical picture book about ecological and cultural destruction, illustrated with remarkable and highly stylized art. Small, reddish-brown armadillo/numbatlike creatures describe what happens when newcomers arrive in their homeland-"The rabbits came many grandparents ago-." Their numbers and technology take over, with devastating effects: "Sometimes we had fights, but there were too many rabbits.- They chopped down our trees and scared away our friends- and stole our children." In the end, the land is devastated and the animals wonder, "Who will save us from the rabbits?" The brief, bleak text is simple, and its message fairly obvious, but it is the stunning ink, oil, and wash artwork that adds complexity and the visual experience of a culture and landscape being overrun. The sharp-angled, streamlined white rabbits in formal suits and uniforms start out the same size as their rounded unclothed compatriots, but soon take over the foreground in ever-expanding size. The tiny innocent smokestack of their first vehicle and the predatory prow of their massively looming ship become the ominous portent of mechanization that runs amok. Though aspects of both illustrations and text make the parable particularly pertinent to Australia, the nonspecific language and highly stylized art are easily generalized and parallels can be drawn to any study of colonial history. The story's point of view provides a clear understanding of, and unsentimental empathy with, the experience of indigenous cultures, while its extraordinary art offers a thought-provoking, powerful look at a land and people overwhelmed.-Nancy Palmer, The Little School, Bellevue, WA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In this terse, allegorical import, the arrival of technologically proficient "Rabbits" to a new land leads to warfare with indigenous residents, teeming cities, and devastation of the natural environment. Tan's highly stylized illustrations sport barely recognizable rabbits in ornate, high-collared costume swarming over desert landscapes, erecting factories, carving away mountains and subduing spear-carrying, uncomprehending aborigines-cast as numbats-with cannon and sheer weight of numbers. Is there a lesson here? Duh. Any tale featuring rabbits will have resonance lost to readers on other continents, but the invasion's ugly course has recognizable parallels everywhere. And rather than close with trite warnings or simplistic answers, Marsden offers only an anguished, thought-provoking question: "Who will save us from the Rabbits?" Who indeed. (Picture book. 8-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780968876886
  • Publisher: Simply Read Books
  • Publication date: 11/1/2003
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 7 - 15 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.40 (w) x 12.40 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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