My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This review goes for all the bunny-centric Beatrix Potter books, including The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, and The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit. I’m just attaching it to The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies because I think it has the cutest drawings (leetle behbeh bunneh ears!).
You don’t realize, when you are a child, how perfect and lifelike Beatrix Potter’s illustrations are. That takes adult eyes. Looking at the drawings for these 4 books, I couldn’t get over how lifelike Potter’s rabbits were. It was clear to me that she knew her subjects in the most intimate way; she had been observing the wildlife of northern England for years to be able to draw rabbits in such lifelike ways, even while anthropomorphizing them (Mrs. Flopsy Bunny in her little housekeeper’s apron?!? Adorable!). The tenderness and reality of the colors are also amazing: the variations of brown in the bunnies’ coats; the shades of green in a lettuce leaf; the slightly misty quality to views of Old Mr. MacGregor’s garden that evoke a golden age of the English countryside that probably never existed. Or maybe it did. Or maybe it does, in our imaginations and hearts.
Looking back, one might think Beatrix Potter’s tales are a bit harsh for children (e.g., The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit: The Bad Rabbit beats up another rabbit and takes his carrot, then gets shot at by a hunter. He doesn’t die, only loses his tail and whiskers, but Oi! Violence!). However, I don’t think they are excessively so (the Bad Rabbit does not die; there is no bloody bunny carcass displayed on the meadow or hanging from the hunter’s fist), and I read these books as a child and turned out fairly fine, so I have very little qualm about passing them on to the next generation.