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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit, written by Emma Thompson and illustrated by Eleanor Taylor. Frederick Warne, Penguin. 2012. $21.99 ages 3 and up

"Inside, wrapped in brown paper, were some excellent sandwiches of cheese and pickle. He ate them all. It was cosy in the basket so he fell asleep. When he woke up the basket was joggling. Fearfully, Peter lifted the lid and peeked out. The basket was in a cart and the cart was on the open road! Badly frightened, and with no idea of what to do..."

I quite like this new story of one of my old favorites. It is filled with charm and lovely, gently colored artwork, just as Beatrix Potter's original tale of Peter Rabbit was. I love the adventurous Peter who, despite earlier scary forays away from hearth and home and strict warnings, manages to get himself in another predicament. He is a curious wee bunny and that leads to some interesting stories to share.

A big difference with this new tale is its size. It is published in a much bigger format than the original tales, and that makes it much easier to read in a large group setting. While the tiny books were perfect for little hands and sit-together settings, this one will be easily shared with a much larger group. The artwork is definitely reminiscent of Beatrix Potter's work which gives it a sense of familiarity for her fans.

It's been a very long while since a visit with Peter and friends. This one begins with a familiar setting...Mr. McGregor's garden. I guess some bunnies never learn their lessons. This time Peter is looking for solace in lettuce but is enticed by the smell of onions coming from a nearby basket. It's too much...he climbs inside, eats everything found there and feeling as we all do after a big lunch, a snooze seems in order. Next thing he knows, the basket is 'joggling'. Peter is off on another adventure.

At the end of that trip, he finds himself in Scotland where he meets a black rabbit who is obviously a distant cousin. The story plays out with a tempting and very delicious radish, some Highland games, a surprise win for Peter in a game of strength and a chance to accept the hospitality of the welcoming and generous McBurney family. If it sounds like fun, you are right! Peter, who is definitely in need of escapades, gets just what he wants. In the end though, he is homesick once more and the McBurneys arrange a return trip.

I really like the way Emma Thompson tells her story. She keeps closely to Peter's character and gives us an new tale that has us hoping we will see more of this unconcerned and willing to take life as it comes hero:

"By the time Peter had stopped eating, he was INSIDE the radish.

Feeling cosy, he fell asleep.

When he woke up, the radish

"Not again," thought Peter."

Again indeed! Just as an aside, the next time Benjamin Bunny would like to join him.

The book is accompanied by a CD version of the story, read by Emma Thompson. Take it in the car and let the kids listen again and again. It's lovely!

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