Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Beatrix Potter had really bad PMS

She must've. I see no other explanation.

I wanted to get J "The Peter Rabbit Library". I absolutely loved these books when I was a child. And my mom, remembering this, had thoughtfully bought the first 12 books back when I was in highschool and saved them for someday when I had children. She gave them to me when I was pregnant with J. But she didn't know that there are a total of 23 books. And I have spent some time trying to find volume 2 of the set that she bought back in the '80s. I've been close a couple of times, but things happened and through no fault of my own, I never got the books.

I finally found the correct set. From the correct publisher. From the correct year. In the correct little box. In excellent condition. In California. But it was over on the abebooks site, and the seller was happy to ship it here. I was so excited!

The books arrived today. J now has the complete set. Most of the books are quite delightful, but they do have their moments. And some of the books leave one wondering why Ms. Potter was such a cranky-pants.

Below is an excerpt. Each paragraph is a separate page in the book.

The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit

This is a fierce bad Rabbit; look at his savage whiskers, and his claws and his turned-up tail.

This is a nice gentle Rabbit. His mother has given him a carrot.

The bad Rabbit would like some carrot.

He doesn't say "Please." He takes it!

And he scratches the good Rabbit very badly.

The good Rabbit creeps away, and hides in a hole. It feels sad.

This is a man with a gun.

O ..... kay. That seems ... rather out of place, doesn't it? What are we learning here? That if we are impolite, bully nice peers, and take things that don't belong to us, someone will shoot us?

I can just see the author. She has a deadline to meet. She has a case of writer's block. She is grumpy. She goes to a nice park to get inspiration. She sees two children playing. One child takes the other child's ball without asking. The other child starts crying. And it occurs to the very angry author: "If I had a gun, I'd shoot you myself, you horrible little imp!"

Thus, a children's book is borne!

The man does not actually kill either Rabbit. He is apparently blind. He mistakes the bad Rabbit for a funny looking bird. And he shoots at him, but ... well ... being blind and everything, he misses. But he scares the bad Rabbit very badly, and his tail and whiskers fall off. The good Rabbit watches the bad Rabbit run off. And that is the end of the story.

So it is something of an unusual story. Probably not a suitable bedtime tale for J. But I feel certain that H and I will laugh heartily at it for quite some time!!

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