Denise Day Spencer

November 12, 2006

That twisted bunny tale

Filed under: Home Front — denisedayspencer @ 11:18 pm

Well, this post is going to be about my kids. In fact, I’m going to let my daughter help me write it, though she doesn’t know it yet.

Some time back, I got an e-mail from Noel that related this tale:

“I just wanted to tell you this story I thought you would get a kick out of. Yesterday Ryan and I were hanging out and somehow the topic of The Velveteen Rabbit came up. We were both talking about that book and how we had read it as children, but neither of us were entirely sure about the plot.

“Ryan said, ‘That book was about the rabbit who the boy doesn’t want to play with at first, but then one day all his other toys are gone or something so he plays with the rabbit and it becomes his favorite toy.’

“I said, ‘Umm no. I think you are thinking of Toy Story. The Velveteen Rabbit is a scary and twisted story about this kid who gets scarlet fever and they have to burn everything he ever touched, including the rabbit.’

“We argued about this forever and then finally decided we needed to call a truce until we could find a copy of the book. We looked at several bookstores but couldn’t find a copy so just now I got online and found an online copy. Turns out we were both right! I think it is fascinating how people remember certain things. I have bad memories about that book because I focused on the sickness and destruction, while Ryan has happy ones because he focused on the friendship.

“What does that say about me compared to Ryan?”

I told this story to my son, Clay. When I concluded, he said, “Well, they’re both right; it’s both of those things.”

Then I said that in all of this talk about the velvetty bunny, I thought it a bit strange that nobody had yet hit upon the theme of the whole story. “Theme?” Clay asked. “What theme?”

“Oh, surely you remember!” I exclaimed. “The theme is how the stuffed rabbit wants to be real, and finally he becomes real because the little boy loves him so much.”

Clay blinked, then responded in mock horror. “He was real?! Then that means he could feel the flames devouring him! That means he had a soul! He probably died and went to hell!!!”

Both of my children are English majors. Both are excellent writers. But let’s hope neither of them decides to write a children’s book any time soon…at least not until they undergo some serious psychotherapy.



  1. A girl in my English class wrote a paper on Hawley Cook bookstore, formerly in Louisville. When writing about the Kid’s section she mentioned The Velveteen Rabbit because the store had a giant plush model of him. We basically had the same discussion, not real sure what the book was about but remembering that we loved it as children.

    Comment by Clay Spencer — November 12, 2006 @ 11:54 pm | Reply

  2. Rabbit, schmabbit. About all I know about rabbits is that they ofter get run over while crossing the highway. I do remember that we got some white rabbits for pets when I was a little boy. They weren’t very good pets because it you took them out of their cage they would run away. I remember that in the winter Dad would get some “clover” type hay and stuff the cage so full that the rabbits could hardly move. Then they would work themselves to the “core” of the bedding and eat themselves some room. They would eat their bedding througout the winter and if they played their cards right they would have it all eaten about the time that the weather turned warm in the spring. Some system, huh?.

    Comment by Dad — November 13, 2006 @ 4:34 pm | Reply

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