Monday, October 16, 2006

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

Recently, I posted a question about this book on the 4Real Learning forum. We were between read-alouds in our WWII unit, waiting for Hilda Van Stockum's The Winged Watchman to arrive. I wondered if I should pick up "Pink Rabbit" from our library in the interim.

I got mixed reviews, so decided to give it a try.

We're only a few pages into it, but so far we're really enjoying it. My girls can completely identify with Anna, who has this reaction to a recent purchase:

She unpacked her new crayons and took them all out of their box. There was a good pink and quite a good orange, but the blues were the best. There were three different shades, all beautifully bright, and a purple as well.

I can see why the boys, mentioned on the 4 Real forum thread, didn't find this to be action-packed. But my budding little writers find Anna to be just the kind of girl they'd like to spend some time with:

Lately she had been producing a number of illustrated poems which had been much admired both at home and at school. There had been one about a fire, one about an earthquake and one about a man who died in dreadful agonies after being cursed by a tramp. Why not try her hand at a shipwreck? All sorts of words rhymed with sea and there was "save" to rhyme with "wave" and she could use the three new blue crayons for the illustration. She found some paper and began.

Soon she was so absorbed that she did not notice the early winter dusk creeping into the room ....

And in this exchange, Anna's father, a writer, offers her some sage advice that my made my girls light up with its truth:

Anna said, "Papa, do you really like the poem?"

Papa said he did.

"You don't think it should be more cheerful?"

"Well," said Papa, "a shipwreck is not really a thing you can be very cheerful about."

"My teacher Fraulein Schmidt thinks I should write about more cheerful subjects like the spring and the flowers."

"And do you want to write about the spring and the flowers?"

"No," said Anna sadly. "Right now all I seem to be able to do is disasters."

Papa gave a little sideways smile and said perhaps she was in tune with the times.

"Do you think then," asked Anna anxiously, "that disasters are all right to write about?" Papa became serious at once.

"Of course!" he said. "If you want to write about disasters, that's what you must do. It's no use trying to write what other people want. The only way to write anything good is to try to please yourself."

And, the only way to find out whether or not you like a book is to read it yourself. So, we'll push on with this one, and I'll keep you posted.

And, by the way, that copy of The Winged Watchman arrived, and it's a very cool old 1962 edition. Don't you love old books?


Love2Learn Mom said...

I thought Pink Rabbit was beautifully written, though I think there are a few things that would be troubling to little ones farther along in the book.

Winged Watchman is a big time favorite around here, of course.

Have you tried Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan and The Small War of Sergeant Donkey by Maureen Daly? Those are two more WWII favorites that are rather friendly for the younger set.

Karen E. said...

How difficult does it get? I think my older ones will probably be fine, but I'll avoid reading it in front of Ramona ....

Love2Learn Mom said...

It's been years since I've read it, but I remember a troubling part about a very intelligent man who went crazy after being mistreated by the Nazis. I don't think it was very graphic, more psychologically disturbing - in a weird sort of way.

Love2Learn Mom said...

I think it's something you could easily identify while reading aloud and skip it if you think it appropriate.

Karen E. said...

Thanks both for the additional book suggestions and for the warning. We actually reached that part of the book just this morning, and you're right, it was easily caught and I ended up skipping it after skimming ahead to see the details. It *was* psychologically disturbing, even if not horribly graphic ... it was the sort of thing that makes us shudder over man's inhumanity to man, and the details were just a bit too ugly for my girls.

We skipped it and moved on. Other than that, we really are enjoying it very much!

Love2learn Mom said...

You're welcome! World War II is one of my favorite time periods for historical fiction. I know that sounds strange to some, but sometimes the greatest goods in humanity come out at the times of greatest evil and misery. It might also be that I watched a lot of WWII movies with my Dad growing up.:)