The Velveteen Rabbit

Overview

The tender relationship between the boy and his stuffed rabbit shines through gorgeous, luminous illustrations, transporting adult readers into the world of childhood while giving children a picture of themselves.

In her retelling of The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, Komako Sakai's text flows beautifully with her evocative, color-saturated illustrations. Written in gentle tones, the text resonates with the tender relationship between the boy and his toy rabbit. And, as ...

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Overview

The tender relationship between the boy and his stuffed rabbit shines through gorgeous, luminous illustrations, transporting adult readers into the world of childhood while giving children a picture of themselves.

In her retelling of The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, Komako Sakai's text flows beautifully with her evocative, color-saturated illustrations. Written in gentle tones, the text resonates with the tender relationship between the boy and his toy rabbit. And, as always, Sakai's sensitive illustrations succeed in an absolute sense in evoking the interior world of the child, with all of its playful energy and poignant solitude. Her depictions of child and rabbit are memorable and may well become part of our collective, cultural memory of Williams' original book. Sakai's text is simpler than Williams', allowing her illustrations to convey much that is left unsaid, making for a fine integrity between word and image.

Komako Sakai was born in Hyogo, Japan. After graduating from Tokyo's National University of Fine Arts and Music, Sakai worked at a kimono textile design company. She is currently one of the most popular authors and illustrators in Japan. She is well known in the United States for In the Meadow, Emily's Balloon, and The Snow Day.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Everyone remembers that the Velveteen Rabbit receives a fairy’s gift of life. But at its core, Margery Williams’s classic story is about stark realities: humans are brusque and unreliable, toys wear out, and—above all—one is either real or one is not. “He hasn’t got any hind legs!” sneers a real rabbit in the original version’s woodland scene. “ ‘Fancy a rabbit without any hind legs!’ And he began to laugh.” In Sakai’s (In the Meadow) retelling, those cruel truths are considerably softened and pared down—where Williams sometimes seemed to prolong the afflictions of her hero, Sakai touches on them only long enough to give her story some emotional heft before moving on. Sakai’s illustrations, richly textured paintings done in acrylic and oil pencil, retain the original’s Edwardian setting, while cushioning the story’s sharp edges with blankets of smudgy, luminous color. Throughout, Sakai emphasizes the rabbit’s stiff, toylike unreality, showing him lying forgotten in the garden beside a shovel or propped up against a tree. It’s an elegant condensation, but in the process, much of the emotional power has been dialed down. Ages 4–up. (Nov.)
From the Publisher

Recommended in The Wall Street Journal's 2012 Gift Guide

"Here Ms. Sakai again displays her gift for depicting inner truths in the outer appearance of very small children. In the cupping of small hands, the confiding turn of a face, Ms. Sakai captures without a bit of saccharine the transportation of a boy into the realm of his own imagination." -- Meghan Cox Gurdon, The Wall Street Journal

School Library Journal
PreS-K—Spare text and lovely artwork characterize this retelling of Margery William's classic tale, originally published in 1922. The major plot points are succinctly incorporated, as the rabbit learns about the possibility of becoming "REAL" ("a child's true friend"), steps into place as his owner's most-cherished plaything, is relegated to the rubbish heap after the boy's bout with illness, and is magically transformed into "Real to everyone" by the fairy of the nursery. While some original wording is maintained, descriptive passages have been distilled down to a few brief sentences and the dialogue incorporates accessible, modern-sounding phrases. Done primarily in muted tones of earthy brown, pastoral green, and dusky blue, the illustrations create an old-fashioned air with Edwardian-era clothing and details. The rabbit, at first pristine with bright blue ribbon and pink nose and gradually showing wear and tear, always looks stiff and toylike, remaining appropriately aloof until the fairy's kiss turns him into a creature that appears vibrantly alive. Most of the images focus tightly on the stuffed animal and boy, with adults depicted only partially or on the periphery, giving a distinctly childlike perspective to the visual storytelling. Soft edges and blended textures add to the magic and mystery. While this adaptation perhaps lacks the full punch of the original, the emotions ring true, making it an inviting rendition for the youngest listeners.—Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
A lightly massaged version of the classic tale, with atmospherically combed and rubbed oil-pencil pictures. Recasting Williams' original text into shorter sentences and simpler language (through a translator), Sakai subtly sweetens the overall tone: The Nursery Fairy's "I take care of all the playthings that the children have loved. When they are old and worn out and the children don't need them any more, then I come and take them away with me and turn them into Real," is here, "I take care of the toys that the children have truly loved. When their time comes and they have to say goodbye, I come for them and make them Real." The muted, grainy illustrations add further touches of sentiment, not only in the antique, period flavor of the boy's clothing and toys, but in the rabbit itself, which has a plump and very soft-looking body, large green eyes (still green after its transformation at the end) and a blue neck ribbon that gradually loses color to underscore the wear and tear of constant use. No replacement for the original, but a particularly tender variant. (Picture book. 6-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592701285
  • Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books
  • Publication date: 11/20/2012
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 702,722
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author


Komako Sakai was born in Hyogo, Japan. After graduating from Tokyo's National University of Fine Arts and Music, Sakai worked at a kimono textile design company. She is currently one of the most popular author-illustrators in Japan.
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