What’s it all about?:
Nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.
Like the Skin Horse, Margery Williams understood how toys–and people–become real through the wisdom and experience of love.
What did I think?:
The first time I ever heard of this book was on a classic Friends episode where Chandler decides to buy an expensive first edition version of the book for his friend Joey’s girlfriend who he is also hopelessly in love with. Since then, I’ve been curious about it and when the time came for Chrissi and I to pick our Kid-Lit choices for this year, this had to be one of them. It was first published in 1922 and has some gorgeous illustrations by William Nicholson which unfortunately weren’t available on my Kindle edition but I did not enjoy the book any less for it.
It is a beautiful tale about a stuffed rabbit given to a little boy one Christmas but sadly lies neglected for a while in favour of more modern, mechanical toys. One night however the boy is given the old rabbit to sleep with after the loss of another toy and it becomes the boy’s firm favourite. They go on many adventures together and as the boy’s love for the rabbit grows, the rabbit becomes slightly shabbier for all the bedtime hugs it receives. After the mechanical toys mock the rabbit for his shabbiness, the wisest and oldest toy in the nursery The Skin Horse tells the rabbit that through the boy’s love he could become REAL which placates him slightly. On one of their adventures however, The Velveteen Rabbit comes across some real wild rabbits and is quite distressed when they make fun of the fact that he has no hind legs and couldn’t possibly be real.
One day something terrible happens – the boy becomes very ill with scarlet fever and on his recovery, the doctor suggests that everything the boy has touched during his illness should be got rid of, this includes the poor rabbit which the boy has lain with as his comfort. The rabbit is broken-hearted and cries but as his tears hit the ground, a beautiful flower appears which holds a little fairy. She tells the rabbit that because he is old and shabby and was well loved by the boy, she will now make him completely real and he is delighted to join the wild rabbits jumping in the field, complete with the obligatory real hind legs. He returns to get a glimpse of the boy and the boy himself recognises his old Velveteen rabbit in the wild rabbit’s face.
I’m so glad I finally read this story and now completely understand why people find it so magical. I vividly remember wishing my toys could come to life as a child (doesn’t everyone?) and I think many young children will be charmed and excited by this tale. It’s very short so can easily be read as a bedtime story and I think if anyone is considering buying it they should make sure they purchase the edition with the illustrations as they are so beautiful and really compliment the story. It’s definitely a book I hope to be reading to my children one day.
For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her blog HERE.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):