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The Rabbits Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 15, 2003


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Hardcover, Bargain Price, September 15, 2003
$136.40 $3.05

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-8-An allegorical picture book about ecological and cultural destruction, illustrated with remarkable and highly stylized art. Small, reddish-brown armadillo/numbatlike creatures describe what happens when newcomers arrive in their homeland-"The rabbits came many grandparents ago…." Their numbers and technology take over, with devastating effects: "Sometimes we had fights, but there were too many rabbits.… They chopped down our trees and scared away our friends… and stole our children." In the end, the land is devastated and the animals wonder, "Who will save us from the rabbits?" The brief, bleak text is simple, and its message fairly obvious, but it is the stunning ink, oil, and wash artwork that adds complexity and the visual experience of a culture and landscape being overrun. The sharp-angled, streamlined white rabbits in formal suits and uniforms start out the same size as their rounded unclothed compatriots, but soon take over the foreground in ever-expanding size. The tiny innocent smokestack of their first vehicle and the predatory prow of their massively looming ship become the ominous portent of mechanization that runs amok. Though aspects of both illustrations and text make the parable particularly pertinent to Australia, the nonspecific language and highly stylized art are easily generalized and parallels can be drawn to any study of colonial history. The story's point of view provides a clear understanding of, and unsentimental empathy with, the experience of indigenous cultures, while its extraordinary art offers a thought-provoking, powerful look at a land and people overwhelmed.-Nancy Palmer, The Little School, Bellevue, WA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

John Marsden was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1950. In 1969 he began an Arts/Law Degree at the University of Sydney, but soon abandoned this for a series of exotic jobs. It was not until 1978 that he found a career which suited him: that of teaching. His first book, So Much to Tell You, was published in 1987. It won the 1988 Children's Book of the Year and the U.S.'s Christopher Medal, and was named Notable by the U.S. Library Association. After a few more books, he left teaching to write full time. Tomorrow When the War Began, published in 1994, was the first in a trilogy which has smashed sales records, but more importantly gripped the hearts and imaginations of young readers worldwide. After more than 25 books, he is arguably one of the best-known and best-respected novelists for young adults.

Award-winning artist and author Shaun Tan has achieved international recognition for his work, including the CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award for this book, an Honor Book Award for Memorial (with G. Crew) and The Lost Thing, an APA Design Award, an Honorable Mention at the Bologna Book Fair, three Aurealis Awards, and Spectrum Gold and Silver Awards. In 2001 he was named best artist at the World Fantasy Awards in Montreal. A graduate of the University of Washington in 1995, with honors in fine arts and English literature, he lives in Perth, Australia.


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Customer Reviews

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An absolute treasure...
The Dude
Wikipedia claims they are "suspected of being the most significant known factor of species loss" in that country.
Pikay
Each image is full of small details, beautiful colors, and creativity.
Jordan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 52 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on June 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
First of all, I'm going to admit right here and now that I was seriously depressed as a child by Dr. Suess's, "The Lorax". A great book with a great story and a great moral and it brought me down low. But that's okay. I got over it. I was doing all right. Then I idly picked up John Marsden's, "The Rabbits" in my local lending library. Suddenly all the feelings I'd ever felt after reading "The Lorax" were back, but stronger. I came to the realization that this book was better than the Seussian creation. It carries a different message, but the idea behind the tale (and the method of teaching it) is the same. Once you've read "The Rabbits", you can't unread it. It sticks in your brain and you start to see its scenes replaying themselves in your mind at the oddest of times. The best word I can conjure up to describe this book is "haunting". It's like nothing you've ever read before.

To read this book requires understanding a little about its background. Originally published (as far as I could ascertain by the nationalities of the author and illustrator) in Australia, the book is about the effects of colonization. As you may recall, rabbits were once a foreign species that was introduced to the Australian wildlife with disastrous results. Devouring the native resources and spreading like mad, both they and cane toads are considered dangerous pests. Taking that idea as a starter, we follow the arrival of civilized rabbits on a vaguely Australian-like land. The story is told from the point of view of some brown curly tailed spear carrying native animals. As the book begins the native animals say, "At first we didn't know what to think. They looked a bit like us. There weren't many of them". Time passes and more and more rabbits come to the land.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Arash Mohebbi on September 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Let's get this out of the way first - it's an allegorical retelling of a frankly depressing tale; that of the fate of aboriginal cultures in the face of English colonisation, exploitation and genocide (both planned and unintentional). I agree with the reviewer who states that this isn't the best of kid's bedtime stories; I'd class it along side books about tricky to explain subjects like reproduction or puberty. It's one of those special books you might reach for when your kids come to you with a question that you can't yet address face (i.e., they might not "get it" because of their age, etc.,).

But I frankly take issue with the twerp who fusses about "revisionism" as though the destruction of aboriginal culture never took place and that they're only making trouble. Get over it pal - it happened.

I'd say buy it if nothing else for the artwork - it's the most inventive, clever vision of colonialism and culture clash you'll have seen for some time, with something for everyone there:)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on November 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The Rabbits is a powerful and attention engaging picture book story by John Marsden with an underlying environmental message and drawn from the environmental experiences of the inhabitants and wildlife of Australia. An allegory of colonization, The Rabbits shows how a vast number of rabbits take over a land, strip it of its resources, multiply, and poison the earth by their sheer numbers. Unforgettable, stylized illustrations Shaun Tan lend a dark touch to this portrayal of unchecked and destructive tendencies. "Who will save us from the rabbits?" is the ultimate question arising from this outstanding allegory picture book story that parallels such widespread contemporary ecological experiences arising from the overwhelming onset of unbalanced industrialization, unremediated environmental damage, and unrestrained population growth.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By The Dude on October 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In my humble opinion, I don't think it's an overstatement to say Shaun Tan is the finest illustrator of our time. He accomplishes SO much in the space given, yet it's never cluttered or busy. His attention to detail & lush palette make me envy naked eyes about to view his work for the first time. An absolute treasure...
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Dedman on May 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Shaun Tan's amazing artwork for 'The Rabbits' tells you everything you ever needed to know about Australian history in glorious colour and astonishing detail. This is not only a must-read for children, but for adults - worthy to share space on your bookshelf with Raymond Briggs's 'When the Wind Blows' and 'The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman' on one side, and fat volumes of Goya and Hieronymus Bosch on the other. Superb.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Pikay on September 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I discovered this book years ago tucked away (one copy) on a corner shelf in an independent bookstore that had a wonderful children's book section. I read it, absorbed it, and walked away from it. It stayed with me. The next time I was at that store, I looked for it again, but couldn't find it. I couldn't even remember what the title was (I knew it had something to do with rabbits) or who the author was. To my complete lack of surprise, it wasn't something I found at the big chain bookstores, though I searched regularly. Another reviewer refers to this book as "haunting," and that is exactly right. THE RABBITS haunted me from my first reading.

I stumbled upon it again here at Amazon thanks to a review written by a complete stranger for another book by a different author, in which he referenced this book by name and author. I ordered it immediately, and am so grateful to have gotten a second chance to add it to my library.

Rabbits were introduced to Australia from Europe in the 18th century, and their effect on the ecology of that continent was devastating. Wikipedia claims they are "suspected of being the most significant known factor of species loss" in that country. Their use in this beautiful book as a metaphor for colonial destruction, both careless and deliberate -- of the environment, of native species, of indigenous culture -- is both genuis and heartbreaking.

I don't have children myself and don't know how old a child would have to be to appreciate this book rather than be bored or confused or simply put off by the bleakness of the allegory...
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