One-Minute Book Reviews

April 1, 2007

Who Framed Peter Rabbit? All the Publishers Who Bring You Cheesy Knock-Offs

Bad bunny books and some recommended substitutions for the Easter basket

If you’re looking good books about bunnies, beware of the words “based on.” That phrase on a cover is usually a tip-off that you aren’t getting the original text, pictures or both. And some books omit even that red flag. Two examples are Peter Rabbit (Ideals, $3.95) and The Velveteen Rabbit (Ideals, $3.95), which have the words of Beatrix Potter and Margery Williams but pictures far inferior to those in the best-known editions of their books. Publishers can do this because The Tale of Peter Rabbit and The Velveteen Rabbit are out of copyright in the U.S. (though not necessarily in all other countries). Some knock-offs of these classics cost as much as books with the original text and art.

So why not go for the real thing? Or consider any of the many other good books about rabbits. They include Pat the Bunny (Golden Books, $9.99, ages 1–3) by Dorothy Kunhardt; The Runaway Bunny (HarperCollins, $16.99, ages 2–5), by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd; and Bunny Cakes and Bunny Money (Picture Puffins, $5.99 each, ages 3–5), by Rosemary Wells, or other titles in Wells’s hilarious “Max and Ruby” series about a brother and sister rabbit. For ages 6 and up, consider the chapter-books about Bunnicula the “vampire rabbit” (well, it does drain juice from vegetables), by James Howe and Deborah Howe, illustrated Alan Daniel. The titles in this comic mystery series may tell you all you need to know: Bunnicula, Bunnicula Strikes Again!, Howliday Inn, Return to Howliday Inn and The Celery Stalks at Midnight (Aladdin, $4.99–$5.99 each).

A review of the best children’s versions of the Easter story appeared on this site on March 17, 2007. You can find it archived with the March posts and under “Children’s Books” if this direct link doesn’t work:

Links: Search the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia for the terms “The Velveteen Rabbit,” “Pat the Bunny” and “The Runaway Bunny” for more information about these books and pictures of the original illustrations. Search for “Bunnicula” to learn more about that series, which has been adapted for television.

[Update posted 4/04/04: If you are looking for pictures of rabbits that your child can color, click on the link to Rosemary Wells’s Web site listed above. Her site has lively pictures of the rabbits Max and Ruby that you can download.]

“Snap” Preview is enabled on One-Minute Book Reviews. This means that if you just put your cursor on the link to Rosemary Wells’s site, you can see the cover of one of her “Max and Ruby” books. You don’t have to click on the link and go to her site. Try it with this link to see another photo of me and of the covers of my novels

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. But Jan, when you think about it, the very notion of killing a woman in the name of “honor” strikes me as eerily similar to the idea of killing a movie director considered to be scornful of Islam. It would seem to be the same mentality that would sanction the killing of thousands of New Yorkers as retribution for the basing of U.S service members on holy land in Saudi Arabia. It could even be the very same mentality that would justify the detonating of an Iranian thermo nuclear device somewhere in Israel. In this respect, the Islamic practice of killing women in the name of honor may in fact have more global significance than we might first have thought. She might be on to something here.

    Comment by heehler — April 3, 2007 @ 10:21 pm | Reply

  2. What an interesting point. I hadn’t considered that Hirsi Ali might be using the “honor killings” as a metaphor for something larger, or a directional signal. The problem is that if she’s thinking that way, she doesn’t express the connection as clearly as you do (though the book does deal with 9/11 and related events).

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — April 4, 2007 @ 12:12 am | Reply

  3. I suspect she means it literally, and not metaphorically. Which is to say, how could the West ever hope to coexist with cultures so wanting, that they would sanction the killing of their own wives and daughters in the name of honor? Are we to assume that these Islamic men would treat those they deem as “infidels” any better?

    Moreover, the extreme practice of honor killings seems to frame the role of women in such a way as to enable the less extreme , yet more widespread practice of marginalizing whole populations of Islamic women. Is it a coincidence that societies which have evolved to welcome and receive the contributions of “all” their citizens are markedly more successful than those which have not? If Islamic resentment of other more successful cultures is the root cause of terrorism, and Islamic societies are less successful because one half their populations are kept barefoot and pregnant, then the Islamic practice of honor killings could literally very well be the most important issue we face in the 21st century.

    Comment by heehler — April 6, 2007 @ 12:26 am | Reply

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