My parents read The Velveteen Rabbit to me and my sister at bedtime so often I still could tell you the entire plot of the story with ease. My family has read and reread that book so many times that it is nearly falling apart. The story is what affected me the most, or so I thought. I later discovered that my copy of The Velveteen Rabbit, that I loved so dearly, is actually a simplified version of the original and longer story with the same name. The longer story is still and children’s book and has the same basic plot just expanded.
The Velveteen Rabbit tells the tale of a stuffed velveteen rabbit that is given to a young boy as Christmas present. In the chaos of Christmas morning the rabbit is soon forgotten and for a time lives in the boy’s room unnoticed. His only friend during this time is an old toy horse who tells the bunny a myth that if a child really loves a toy, that toy can become real. One day the boy suddenly decides to take the rabbit to bed and from then never goes to sleep without him. One night the rabbit gets lost in the garden and the boy insists his nanny goes to find it because it is not just a toy. It is real. The rabbit is overjoyed when he hears this because he believes the boy finally loves him enough that the rabbit become real. He even argues with two wild rabbits that he is in fact real despite what they say. The boy then suddenly gets very sick and the doctor tells the nanny to burn all the boy’s toys in order to get the germs out of the room. The bunny is obviously saddened and begins to cry. From his tear a flower grows and out of the flower comes a fairy. The fairy kisses the rabbit and makes him real. The rabbit feeling confused replies that he thought he was real before. The fairy explains that he was real but only to the boy because the boy loved the rabbit so much but now everyone would know he was real.
Stories have a much larger impact on people than I think they are given credit for. In our culture, most stories are delivered to us in the packages of books and so I would argue that many people allow books to hold the same level of importance but in reality it is the story that holds the value and lessons, not the book itself. Just as the Velveteen Rabbit could only become real because of the boy’s love that was now part of him, so books only hold importance because of the stories and lessons that they hold inside them. This should affect the way in which we read though I think every few people are even aware that there is a difference between the story or lesson and the book itself.
Knowing what I know now about my book being a modified version of the original story, I can’t help but wonder about the difference between a book and a story for me. Every time I see the story book that my parents read to me I get a warm fuzzy feeling from all the memories of my childhood. However, when I read the original story the same feelings came up just in a slightly different way. The longer version of the story still reminds me of those times curled up with my parents and sister as I slowly fell asleep. The story, even when told in a different way still triggers the happy childhood memories that I have always associated with the story of a stuffed rabbit becoming real because a child’s love for him. The book will likely fall apart someday and be unreadable but I’ll still be able to go back and relive those happy memories through a different version of the story.
The Velveteen Rabbit. New York : W.H Smith, 1990. Print.
Williams, Margery. The Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real. Garden City: Doubleday and Company, n.d. A Celebration of Women Writers. Web. 1 April 2017. <http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/williams/rabbit/rabbit.html>.