by Margery Williams, published 1922, illustrated by William Nicholson
“The nursery magic had happened to hi, and he was a toy no longer. He was Real. The Boy himself had said it. That night, he was almost too happy to sleep, and so much love stirred in his little sawdust heart that it almost burst.”
There is no doubt that the Velveteen Rabbit is an eternal, classic, well-loved children’s book. My question was whether it was long enough to be considered more than a picture book, since I’m not reviewing picture books on this website. However, after reading it, and thoroughly loving it yet again, I feel a list of great children’s literature which omitted this book would be quite remiss.
Recently, a third-grader, someone just getting her reading skills together, told me that her mother had read her this book the other day. The little third-grade girl couldn’t remember the name, but she said, with eyes glowing, that ‘it was about a toy rabbit that became real.” And to her, that was that…it definitely was possible. And that is what makes this book such a special book. It allows the nursery magic to linger in children’s minds, even as they grow. It’s impossible to be cynical when you read the love that the Boy and his Rabbit shared.
The language in the book is lovely, and for a child who is a good reader, it is a great book to read on one’s own. However, the magic of the book is that it can be first introduced as a read-aloud book, and then, later, read by the child themselves. It will not grow stale, I can attest to that.
This is one book that has far too many versions floating around out there, many of which are abridged, or, highly illustrated. I encourage you to shop carefully. The illustrated versions can steal the imagination right out from under you.