Monday, March 18, 2013

Becoming Real: The Velveteen Rabbit (The Classic Edition) by Margery Williams Bianco

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day. "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. "You become. It takes a long time. Generally, by the time you are REAL, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get very shabby. But these things don't matter, because once you are REAL, you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

An abiding story, Margery Williams Bianco's classic toy story has been associated with the Easter season, not just  for its toy rabbit hero, but for its deep spiritual theme, a resurrection metaphor, a story of spiritual growth and transformation in a warm, homey setting of a boy who survives a serious illness with the comfort of his once beautiful Christmas rabbit.  Generations of children have heard this story, some hearing only a fanciful story of  an outgrown toy, and some growing into the understanding of this story as they become adults.

Artist Charles Santore has given this classic transformation tale of How Toys Become Real, giving to its venerable narrative a new illustrative style, beautiful paintings in a masterful palette which rival those of the original in evoking this lovely story of childhood, old age, and the hope that they share.  His  The Velveteen Rabbit: Or How Toys Become Real (Applesauce Press, 2012), an elegantly tasteful reimagining of this text is a wonderful way to share this meaningful story with young children, a story that never grows old as its readers always do. A must read for all children in those magical years.

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