- Virginia Johnson
“New folks coming!”
That’s the important news that the young rabbit, Little Georgie, has to share with all of his neighbors, from the stately deer to the excitable field mouse on Rabbit Hill. Will they be good providers or “slatternly” like the last batch? Most everyone hopes for a garden, but Phewie, the skunk, is hoping for some quality “garbidge.” All of the residents of Robert Lawson’s Rabbit Hill have an opinion and a hope about what will come.
So many things could go wrong if the new folks that come aren’t nice. There might be vicious dogs. They might bring traps. They might even cut down and plow up the thicket where the burrow lies. Mother Rabbit is beside herself with worry, but Little Georgie and the rest are mostly just excited.
This largely gentle book for animal lovers won the Newbery Medal decades ago, and it has a lot of old-fashioned charm. The writing is rich in tantalizing vocabulary, some of which is provided by Father Rabbit:
“Insofar as I am concerned, Dogs might well prove a very welcome addition to our community. Those country louts belonging to the Fat-Man-at-the-Crossroads are scarcely worth a gentleman’s attention. I would really relish an occasional chase with a couple of highly bred hounds. Why down in the Bluegrass Country where I was reared---“
Fortunately for the readers, none of the animals are too keen on Father’s long-winded speeches, so they always cut him off, but not before readers get a taste of finer words which contrasts well with the quick chatter provided by the other animals.
Rabbit Hill is an excellent beginning fantasy story that stresses kindness for those who are beyond Winnie-the-Pooh but who are not yet ready for Watership Down. Reluctant to say good-bye to Rabbit Hill? Little Georgie and his friends’ adventures continue in The Tough Winter. Other charming books by the author include Ben and Me—a story of Benjamin Franklin and his mouse, and Mr. Revere and I—the tale of the Midnight Ride and much more from the point of view of the patriot’s horse.