Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The beloved tale of the stuffed bunny who becomes real is complemented by delicate pastel drawings. Ages 3-7. (Feb.)
Lou Fancher sensitively adapts Margery Williams's The Velveteen Rabbit, illus. by Steve Johnson and Fancher, while maintaining the magic of the original. The inviting oil paintings ingeniously portray the boy's toy rabbit with button eyes, shaped like those of the real rabbits living in the nearby woods; as the stuffed rabbit is transformed by love, the artists seem to inject animation into its eyes, depicting its metamorphosis into a living, breathing being.
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Although this poignant story of the power of love is now 75 years old, the award-winning artist Loretta Krupinski has given it a fresh look. The little stuffed rabbit wants to know what it is like to be real. It is only after he is loved for years by the little boy who received him as Christmas gift, and is eventually discarded, that he has a chance to become a real rabbit. It is a fantasy that will remain in the hearts of both young listeners and adult readers.
Although this poignant story of the power of love is more than 75 years old, the message can still be appreciated by contemporary kids. The rabbit is made fun of by the other toys that the boy owns, but eventually he becomes the boy's favorite. The little stuffed rabbit wants to know what it is like to be real. It is only after he is loved for years by the little boy who received him as gift, and is eventually discarded due to a contagious illness, that he has a chance to become a real rabbit. Most of the story is faithfully retained in this board book adaptation, and it is a fantasy that will remain in the hearts of both young listeners and adult readers. 2003, HarperFestival/HarperCollins, Ages 1 to 5.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2A pleasant, small volume that joins the growing list of publishers' reworkings of this classic story. Krupinski uses pretty tones of the primary colors in full-page paintings facing pages of text, each headed by a decorative capital forming an elegant link to the pictured story elements. She takes small liberties in both story and pictures in adapting Margery Williams's well-known tale. Here the rabbit's "spotted brown and white" velveteen coat is a soft beige patterned with pale flowers and brighter turquoise spots. Though his color deepens a bit with age, he often looks more calico than velveteen, and his coat is particularly jarring as he encounters the rabbits in the natural world. The abridgment of the text removes some of the early bulky description of the playroom dynamics among the toys. For the most part the story moves well and retains the original language. One crucial omission, however, weakens the set-up of the basic premise. No longer do readers hear of the modern-minded mechanical toys who "pretended they were real." When the Velveteen Rabbit asks the Skin Horse, "What is real?" the idea seems oddly unrelated to anything. Occasionally overly sweet (the fairy is greeting-card precious), the book is appealing in its modest square layout. Libraries wanting varied interpretations of classic titles will be interested.Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
In his note to the reader, Fancher (The Range Eternal, p. 1222, etc.) writes, "I’ve shortened the text to allow more room for the artwork," as an explanation for this abbreviated version of the beloved classic. Shortened indeed: Williams’s poetic passage introducing the Skin Horse has been reduced to: "The Skin Horse was old and wise, and he knew all about being Real." The rest is pared down to match, leaving a tale that does stillfaintlyecho the original’s lyricism, but is less likely to lose the attention of, as Fancher puts it, "a wiggly two-year-old" being forced to listen to it. The art is, as promised, all full-paged and space-filling: quiet compositions in which the Velveteen Rabbit, the Boy, and other figures are large, soft-surfaced forms, viewed close-up, and from a child’s-eye level to enhance the feeling of intimacy. The tale’s more philosophical aspects will still elude most of the nursery school set, but sharing this summary may make some listeners more receptive to the Real story, when they’re old enough to appreciate it. On the other hand, perhaps they’ll think they’ve read it already. Why not just wait? (Picture book. 3-5)
Read an Excerpt
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"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 all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. 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."