Reason To Celebrate: Velveteen Rabbit Turned 100!

Reason To Celebrate: Velveteen Rabbit Turned 100!

Kate Smith, Staff Writer

Love transcends time, whether it be years, decades, or even centuries.

The message of love and acceptance at the heart of The Velveteen Rabbit, a 1922 children’s novel, prevails 100 years later. In this classic, written by Margery Williams and illustrated by William Nicholson, the story of a little boy and his stuffed rabbit is told through seven short chapters, each accompanied by an illustration. 

The story goes a little as follows: A cloth bunny with sawdust for stuffing becomes real through the persistent love of the little boy he was gifted to. After a chance decision on the boy’s caretaker’s part, the stuffed rabbit ends up in bed with the boy–and that is the beginning of their bond. They spend their days together playing outside, with the little boy treating the bunny as though he were real, and their nights snuggled up under the covers. Even as the rabbit gets more and more worn out and shabby, the boy only loves him more. This is how the rabbit realizes he has been made “real.”And, although the boy and the bunny get separated in the end, they both fondly remember their time together and the bunny comes to understand that he was always real to the boy, despite what the real rabbits made him believe.

Touching, no? And despite The Velveteen Rabbit being a children’s novel, it is a good read for any age. The language of the 1920’s that it is written in allows adults to engage with the novel more than with most other children’s books. The underlying themes of accepting changes that may be uncomfortable in the moment but are ultimately for the better, of loving unconditionally, and of being self-assured even in the face of critics are all appealing for older audiences, while the quaint illustrations and simple storyline are catered to the younger audience. Cheyenne Bowe, a sophomore student at Elkhart High School loves The Velveteen Rabbit, and has her own personal velveteen rabbit. “I do have a comfort item; it’s a unicorn I got when I was like…six,” she says, adding, “I love it because it just always seems to be the thing I have had from my childhood!”

This year, a 100th Anniversary Edition of The Velveteen Rabbit is available online and in bookstores, such as Barnes and Noble. This edition is a box set including a hardcover copy of the book, a ribbon bookmark, a slip cover, and three times as many illustrations as the original, done by Charles Santore.Whether it is read to a younger family member or simply for the nostalgia of re-reading a childhood favorite, The Velveteen Rabbit still has a special place in many people’s hearts, as evidenced by its lasting popularity. Not many books get to have a special 100th anniversary edition!