Friday, April 1, 2022

"Once you are Real..."

Undiscovered until I was an adult, "The Velveteen Rabbit Turns 100":
.... “There was once a velveteen rabbit,” the story begins, “and in the beginning he was really splendid. He was fat and bunchy, as a rabbit should be; his coat was spotted brown and white, he had real thread whiskers, and his ears were lined with pink sateen.” This pristine condition will not last.

Within a few sentences, readers are swept into a plaything’s capricious world: “For at least two hours the Boy loved him, and then Aunts and Uncles came to dinner, and there was a great rustling of tissue paper and unwrapping of parcels, and in the excitement of looking at all the new presents the Velveteen Rabbit was forgotten.” ....

...[I]f a child loves a toy enough, it will become real. “By the time you are Real,” [the Skin Horse] prophesies, “most of your hair has been loved off and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” So it goes for the Velveteen Rabbit, who’s plucked from nursery obscurity by the boy’s nursemaid and becomes the child’s boon companion. ....
Meghan Cox Gurdon, "Children’s Books: Margery Williams’s ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ Turns 100," Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2022.

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