July 27, 2021

#08-114: The Velveteen Rabbit

cover illustration of a book, "The Velveteen Rabbit," with a sewn cloth bunny
Cover of the 1922 edition

Note: "When a child loves you for a long, long time... then you become Real." Find out how this worked for the Velveteen Rabbit.

Get Ready: In what sense does love make one real? Or, to turn it around, how might a lack of love limit one's "reality"?

Sad is the child who has not heard Margery Williams's 1922 book, The Velveteen Rabbit, Or How Toys Become Real read aloud. It is one of a handful of truly inspiring children's books.

A small Boy--never named--receives a stuffed Rabbit made of velveteen for Christmas. The Boy receives several other, flashier toys--mechanical, and more expensive--and at first prefers to play with them. These modern toys look down on the others for being simple and old-fashioned.

But the oldest toy in the nursery, the Skin Horse, tells the little Rabbit, "When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become Real." The Boy's Uncle had made the Skin Horse real long, long ago, and once a toy has been made real, it can never be unreal again.

The Velveteen Rabbit is in awe, but believes his chances of ever becoming real are slim.

One night, though, the boy cannot find the toy he usually sleeps with, so his nanny gives him the Velveteen Rabbit. The boy talks to him, and hugs him too tight, and sometimes rolls over on him. But the Rabbit likes it. He becomes the Boy's favorite toy.

Once, on a picnic, he meets some wild rabbits, who mock him because he cannot hop as they do. But one day the Boy becomes sick with scarlet fever, and the Rabbit stays near him throughout his convalescence. The Boy is taken to the seaside to enhance his recovery, and the doctor orders that everything in his room should be disinfected, and his books and toys burned.

Before being consigned to the flames, the Velveteen Rabbit is left in the garden overnight, where he cries as he misses the boy. One of his teardrops hits the ground--and a flower grows! A Fairy steps out of the flower and comforts the Rabbit. She tells him, "You were Real to the Boy, because he loved you. Now you shall be Real to every one."

Taking him to the forest, the Fairy introduces the Rabbit to the wild rabbits. She gives him a kiss, and, after a moment's shyness, he hops away with the others.

The following spring, he sees the Boy--and the Boy sees him. Though he sees a resemblance, "he never knew that it really was his own Bunny, come back to look at the child who had first helped him to be Real."


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Velveteen_Rabbit

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. consigned
  2. convalescence
  3. disinfected
  4. flashier
  5. nursery
  6. recovery
  7. resemblance
  8. scarlet fever
  9. slim
  10. velveteen

  1. a room reserved for young children
  2. a contagious disease
  3. slight; small
  4. more impressive
  5. delivered; transferred
  6. the process of getting better
  7. sanitized; cleansed of germs
  8. a type of cotton fabric
  9. a period of recovery
  10. a similarity of appearance

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for July 27, 2021

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. e; 2. i; 3. g; 4. d; 5. a; 6. f; 7. j; 8. b; 9. c; 10. h