Sally’s Rating: 2/5
Robert Lawson’s Rabbit Hill follows a group of wild animals who are anxiously waiting for new human neighbors to move into an abandoned house. After a year of suffering bad gardens and poisons from the house’s previous owners, the animals test their new neighbors to see if the next gardening year will be a good or bad one.
This book contemplates the idea that appearances can be deceiving. Mr. Muldoon, the family’s cat, is the best example of this. The wild animals believe him to be a savage cat, but when presented with the opportunity to catch some wild animals, the cat would rather laze around in the sun and sleep his day away. While animal stories can be cute, this one lacks a central driving conflict and, instead, is about animals standing around, talking and worrying about things that don’t end up mattering at all.
Nothing really happens in this story. The first twenty pages are devoted to one animal going around and telling the others that the New Folks are moving into the area. While it gives us the chance to meet all the characters, the same conversation is repeated over and over again with nothing new being added to the conversation. Later on in the novel, this happens again when Little Georgie composes a song that gets sung by his animal friends.
A decent amount of humor was present throughout the book. A couple of the characters were a bit snarky and freely spoke their mind. For example, while trying to convince Porkey the Woodchuck to move, one animal doesn’t hesitate to threaten to bring Phewie the Skunk over to his house to evict him. The language and intentional misspellings were a bit irritating to read, though, and made the animals seem unintelligent.
Overall, Rabbit Hill is targeted towards a younger age bracket than the other Newbery books with its simple plot and animal characters. With a sappy ending and fluff-filled plot, Rabbit Hill should be passed over in favor of any of the other multitude of children’s books that feature cute woodland animals.