I am not one for “updated” takes on classics. So when I saw that Emma Thompson had written a book inspired by Peter Rabbit, my stomach did not feel well, and I felt in need of some parsley. “Oh goody,” I thought, “another movie star becomes a picture book author.” Happily, though some might consider revisiting Peter Rabbit to be old-fashioned, Emma knows that when a story or character represents universal truths, it can stand the test of time.
Children can relate to Peter’s boredom, naughtiness, anxiety, adventure, comfort and safety. Add some original art by British artist Eleanor Taylor (she filled some big boots), and, I am delighted to say that this book delivers. Eleanor has her own spin on Peter. He’s a tad softer, but there is no doubt who is wearing the blue coat.
In this deceptively simple story we experience the quest for adventure, an accidental trip to a “faraway” land, a giant rabbit (Finlay McBurney) and his clan, as well as a unique contest and circumstances all wrapped up in a radish that will have you gently chuckling. And trust me, every word was contemplated and said aloud before being committed to the page. So, I recommend, curling up with a cup of tea and enjoying this loving, humorous and adventurous tribute to over 100 years of a favorite rabbit.
View an excerpt of the book from National Public Radio’s interview with Emma Thompson.
Illustration credit: Beatrix Potter, 1866-1943. From The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library