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Watership Down: Book for children & adults
Watership Down: A book for readers of all ages
Many years ago, I lived in Hampshire in the UK and during that time, a book was published that was set in the area in which I lived. 'Interesting' I thought.
Then I realized that this was a fictional tales about rabbit. Yes, talking rabbits. 'Ah, maybe not' I thought. In those days, I liked to think that my tastes were a little more sophisticated than that. I really couldn't imagine that I'd enjoy reading a book about rabbits.
I was wrong.
I received it as a gift
I always love getting books so, despite my reservations, I started to read the book. 'Hmm' I decided 'nicely written'. A few pages later - 'this is quite good, actually'. A few more pages and I couldn't put it down - rabbits or not.
Choose your own level
A group of rabbits, whose warren is under threat from developers, decide that they need to find another place to live.
A band of young rabbits set off to find new home and the book describes their adventures and struggles along the way. As such, that's an interesting story for younger people and completely fascinating in itself. Adults though might find (and many have) that this entertaining tale has deeper meanings regarding our own society.
But nevertheless, younger readers will probably appreciate the underlying message about areas in the countryside which are being developed and hence losing their wildlife. Older readers may wonder how this aspect of the book affects society in addition.
Richard Adams initially developed this story for his young daughters. He later denied that he intended any 'hidden meanings' or allegories. Does that mean that they aren't there though?
Sexist rabbits - really?
I remember reading that the book had been denounced by feminists. You see, once the all-male band of rabbits had found their new home, they belatedly realized that if their society wasn't to die out, they would need to have the 'company' of some females so embark on their next adventure - 'find the lady'.
A few female writers got somewhat hot under the collar about what they considered to be a cavalier attitude by the bucks towards their female counterparts; that they were looking for does not for 'love and companionship' but for sex.
For goodness sake, these are rabbits!
Yes, they made a film
Which was a disappointment to me.
It was too disneyfied and the rabbits in my imagination when I was reading the book were the real thing, not cartoon characters.
However, the trailer that you can watch below does give you some idea of the story and will help you determine whether the book is for you - or your child.
When I win the lottery (haha) a Kindle is one of the top purchases on my list. If you are lucky enough to own one already, here is the sequel you'll need.Like the other two products shown here, this makes a great gift.
It was about twenty years later that the author wrote a sequel to his book.
This allows us to revisit the world we were enchanted by in the original novel.
Once again it is we, the humans, who are causing the problems.
Photo GalleryClick thumbnail to view full-size
I have added screenshots of the pages in the section above so that you can decide if the book is suitable for your own child's reading level.
Children vary so much in the development process and this book may be perfect for some eight year olds but a little too advanced for other older children. Different children develop at different rates. Older children may think, as I did, that reading a story about rabbits is beneath them and too childish.
But for some children, this book is ideal to use as a transition between children's books and those which are more suitable for older people - it can form a valuable bridge.
In the end, it is up to each parent or teacher to determine whether this book is right for their child or children. I hope that the examples above will help.
Note that the first image above is from the introduction in which the author explains how the book came into being and how he characterised the rabbits in the story.
Looking for more book recommendations?
- My Ultimate Reading List - great gift ideas
See a growing list of book recommendations. All these books are truly fascinating in their own way. Do you agree with my selection?
© 2013 Jackie Jackson