In my previous post, The Bilby versus the Bunny, I wrote that in Australia our relationship with rabbits is complex. With Easter just a few days away, today’s post features The Rabbits by John Marsden and Shaun Tan, an extraordinary, thought-provoking title. At first glance, this award-winning book looks like a kids’ title, and it is, but The Rabbits is also a timeless classic for readers of any age.
The story explores Australian colonisation from two perspectives; the numbats and the rabbits. The rabbits are angular, harmful creatures who measure, dissect and destroy.
The rabbits came many grandparents ago. They built houses, made roads, had children. They cut down trees. A whole continent of rabbits …
The numbats didn’t know what to think; They looked a bit like us … Some were friendly.
But then more rabbits came.
Shaun Tan’s powerful artwork adds layer upon layer to John Marsden’s text, and ironically, while most Aussie kids have been introduced to this book at school, many parents and grandparents have not yet read it. The Rabbits has been reviewed by book lovers and organisations, more eloquent than I. Here are a few links; Kids Book Review, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly. There are also adaptations for the stage and opera, and many more online. Happy Easter.