Laurinda’s Rating: 2.5
The 1945 Newbery Medal Winner, Rabbit Hill, tells the tale of all the animals living around Rabbit Hill, focuses particularly around a rabbit family. The book opens with the arrival of New Folks (the author likes capital letters rather a lot), with the animals holding extensive debates on the factors that make the new arrivals either good or bad. The Man and The Lady prove themselves very good indeed, as they prevent the handyman from setting traps, spreading poison, or disturbing the animals in any way. They even care for Little Georgie the rabbit after a vehicle hits him. At the end of the book, the Folks reveal a lovely St. Francis of Assisi fountain and provide a meal for all the Rabbit Hill residents; they continue this practice throughout the summer, putting out food for everyone, including fried chicken for the skunk and the fox. In gratitude, the animals leave the entire garden alone, even patrolling to make sure nothing disturbs it.
Plot you say? A book is supposed to have a plot? Rabbit Hill missed that memo. The above is pretty much all that happened. While the characters were at times entertaining (and the author did an interesting job of assigning each one a different speech pattern), they didn’t make up for the fact that nothing. happened. The only reason this book got a 2.5 was the illustrations. The author is a much more talented illustrator than author.
In his drawings of Uncle Analdas, for example, the author manages to convey Analdas’ elderly nature and life experience with a series of notches in his ears and a slightly belligerent expression. Lawson injected a similar level of detail and personality in the numerous illustrations throughout the book.
If you’re looking for a strong animal story, skip this Newbery entry. It’s worth a browse for the pictures, but that’s about it.