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Monday, 9 January 2017

The Tale of The Flopsy Bunnies

Author and illustrator: Beatrix Potter

Publisher: Frederick Werne 1909 originally. reproduction Frederick Wearne and Co 2002

This is my 3 year old daughter's favourite book, and it has been for quite some time. Once you overcome the length of Beatrix Potter stories with little ones, and Potter books do feel quite long for them on the first few reads, there's something comforting and familiar about the stories, characters and even the way she writes, probably because her work is so over merchandised in contemporary Britain. I've lost count of the Petter Rabbit toys we own, the Squirrel Nutkin birthday cards we've received, and the Tiggy Winkle cup and bowl set I kept from my own childhood we use most days. And there's the rub I suppose, nostalgia! I think I read these books with more passion, more longing, more patience then any other children's books as I have fond memories ( of that cup and bowl set), and so maybe it's this Edie hears in my voice that makes her love them so. I don't think I was ever really read the books as a child myself, but I remember this version of BBC serialisation so well, happy days: 

Now the thing I love about 'The Flopsy Bunnies' tale in particular is the menace of Mr McGregor nearly getting to put the sleeping bunnies in a pie. Edie and I like how he counts out the bunnies on several occasions as it brings the proximity to the time that he will eat them so close.  I also love the fact Potter's work is still unabridged ( I think that's the correct word) meaning that her original descriptions and use of language lay in tact, and so my three year old understands / is expected to understand what 'soporific bunnies' means! I could tell I was reading Potter books far to much to Alf when he was three, as he once turned around in the park and said, with hands on hips, ' I am affronted!!' to a complete stranger.  (line from 'The Tale of Tom Kitten' if anyone is wondering). 

As an aside, when we took a visit to Beatrix Potter's house in the Lake District,the National Trust volunteer tour guide handed all the children a copy of The Tale of Samuel Whiskers. We were worried that our 7 year old wouldn't engage in the tour at all, but with book in hand the guide asked him to find all the places in the house illustrated in the book. These were places, she said, where Beatrix Potter was reported to have seen real rats ( and tried to kill them.  Far from bored, the boys in particular run excitedly round the house comparing the illustrations of the skirting board to the real nooks and crannies in HillTop house. If you're interested in visiting Hill Top (a great way to support children's reading of The tales of Beatrix Potter, visit the National Trust site:
Rating: Stick with these books, persist, and you'll be rewarded with discovering the magic of Potter, beautiful, detailed and eloquent stories, with a very 'British' rural flavour, note wild flower illustrations encapsulate the period.

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