The Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real is a children's novel written by Margery Williams and illustrated by William Nicholson. It chronicles the story of a stuffed rabbit and his quest to become real through the love of his owner. The book was first published in 1922 and has been republished many times since.
The Velveteen Rabbit was Williams' first children's book and it was the most popular of all her children's books. It has been awarded the IRA/CBC Children's Choice award.
Plot summary Edit
A boy receives a Velveteen Rabbit for Christmas. The Velveteen Rabbit is snubbed by other more expensive or mechanical toys; the latter of which fancy themselves real. One day while talking with the Skin Horse, the Rabbit learns that real is not how you are made; rather, a toy becomes real if its owner really and truly loves it.
When the boy's china dog is misplaced, the Velveteen Rabbit takes the place as the boy's constant companion. The Rabbit becomes shabbier, but the boy loves him no matter what.
The Velveteen Rabbit meets very well-made toys with no seams (they are actual rabbits), and the Velveteen Rabbit learns about the differences between himself and the real rabbits.
This companionship lasts through the winter and the next summer, until the boy falls ill with scarlet fever. The boy becomes too ill to play for a very long time; upon his recovery, he is sent to the seaside on doctor's orders. The boy wishes to take the Rabbit with him, but his doctor forbids him to take the germ-laden toy. Not only can he not take the Rabbit, but the doctor says it must be burned along with all the nursery toys in order to disinfect the nursery.
The boy is given a new plush rabbit with glass eyes and is so excited about the trip to the seaside that he forgets his old Velveteen Rabbit. While awaiting the bonfire, in which the Velveteen Rabbit will be burned, the Rabbit cries a real tear. This tear brings forth the Nursery Magic Fairy. The Rabbit thinks he was real before, but the fairy tells him he was only real to the boy. She flies him to the woods, where he realizes that he is a real rabbit at last and runs to join the other rabbits in the wild.
The following spring, the boy sees the Rabbit hopping in the wild and thinks he looks like his old Velveteen Rabbit, but he never knows that it actually was.
The Velveteen Rabbit was adapted into a video recording in 1985 by Random House Video; narrated by Meryl Streep, with music by George Winston. It received a Parents' Choice Award for Multimedia and was a Grammy award nominee. In 1984 it was part of the "Enchanted Musical Playhouse" series, where Marie Osmond played the part of the Velveteen Rabbit.
References in popular cultureEdit
Bob Franke wrote "Velveteen Love Song", a song told from the perspective of the character of the velveteen rabbit. The song is included on his album "In This Night".
The Velveteen Rabbit played a role in the sitcom Friends twice. Once was in an episode in which Chandler got an original copy of the book for Joey's girlfriend. In a later episode, Monica makes Chandler wear a pink bunny outfit at a costume party, which she mistakenly believed he would appreciate because his favorite book as a child was The Velveteen Rabbit.
On the episode "Ageless" on the show Smallville, Evan Sutherland refers to the book as his favorite before his death. Afterwards it is revealed that it was Clark Kent's favorite book as a child as well.
On the episode "Godzilla vs. Megalon" on the show Mystery Science Theatre 3000, Frank refers to the book, saying "And kids, don't forget to read Godzilla vs. the Velveteen Rabbit. The next episode, "Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster", opens with Joel reading The Velveteen Rabbit to his two robots, and here it is referred to as the robots' favorite book.
In the Cold Case episode "The Good Death," Lilly's mother (Meredith Baxter) says that she read the book to her as a bedtime story especially when her daughter was not well. At the end of the episode, Lilly opens up a box of childhood mementos and picks out the book to read to her alcoholic mother.
Parodied by The Velveeta Rabbit.