Friday, July 15, 2011
Rabbit Hill (1945)
You know the old adage, "Don't judge a book by its cover." In this case, trust it. When I first picked this book up I judged it, wrongly. So don't let the cover put you off. Here is the scoop.
All the little animals on the hill are in a hard way. There have not been "folks" in the big house for several years and the animals sorely miss having a garden to raid, garbage pails to go through, and people to plant the fields. The excitement starts when the news of new folks coming begins to buzz through the animal neighborhood.
There is much speculation as to what type of folks these will be. They all hope for planting folk but the worriers among them wonder if there will be dogs, cats, traps and poison. When they finally move in, the animals find in them good friends. The worker repairing the yard wall is told to leave a section near Porkey the woodchuck's burrow, so as not to disturb him. Another, in charge of planting the field, is told "No poison or traps." These men really wonder at the wisdom of this method of keeping varmints out of the garden. They figure it is because the new folk read a lot. One says, "Seems a shame, nice folds too, pleasant-spoken and all-but queer. Comes of readin' books too much, I guess. Grandpa had the right of it. 'Readin' rots the mind,' he used to say." (p. 84)
There is a cast of great animal characters. Phewie the skunk. Worrying Mother rabbit. Pompous Father rabbit. Energetic Little Georgie and cantankerous Uncle Analdas Rabbit. Porkey the Woodchuck. Willie the field mouse and his best friend Mole. And many others.
After the folk leave washed veggies out for the animals, the animals decide that the folks are so good they won't despoil the garden and fields, but keep guard around it so other critters don't get it. Back to the workman. "Louie, I just can't understand it. Here's these new folks with their garden and not a sign of a fence around it, no traps, no poison, no nothing; and not a thing touched, not a thing...Now me, I've got all them things--and what happens? All my carrots gone and half my beets...I can't understand it. Must just be Beginner's Luck." (p. 128)
A fun book for the younger Newbery crowd.
Lawson, Robert. Rabbit Hill. The Viking Press, 1944.