Margery Williams Bianco (text), Helene Magisson (illus.), The Velveteen Rabbit, New Frontier Publishing, 1 March 2015, $27.99(hbk), 48pp., ISBN 9781925059304
First published in 1922, this classic tale is re-imagined in the wonderful drawings of French-Australian illustrator Helene Magisson. The gentle story of a velveteeen rabbit who becomes “real” through the enduring love of his owner is presented in muted blues and greens which exude a warmth and charm that will attract even the youngest of children while they are having the story read to them. Magisson delicately captures the various moods of the tale with subtle changes of the rabbit’s pose and the slightest alteration of expression on its face. While the text is long by modern picture book standards, it is offset by the beautiful illustrations which often spill across the double page blending text and visuals into an enchanting whole and imbuing the story with a fairytale quality.
Its theme of the transformational power of love is as relevant today as when The Velveteen Rabbit was first published. Even in a post Toy Story world, this beautifully illustrated edition of a timeless nursery tale about how love makes us all “real” will still resonate with readers of all ages.
reviewed by John Nolan