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Fierce Bad Rabbits: The Tales Behind Children's Picture Books

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'An enlightening, perceptive analysis of the books that build us' Sunday Telegraph, 5 star review ________________________________________ What is The Tiger Who Came to Tea really about? What has Meg and Mog got to do with Polish embroidery? Why is death in picture books so often represented by being eaten? We've read Green Eggs and Ham, laughed at Mr Tickle and whetted our ap 'An enlightening, perceptive analysis of the books that build us' Sunday Telegraph, 5 star review ________________________________________ What is The Tiger Who Came to Tea really about? What has Meg and Mog got to do with Polish embroidery? Why is death in picture books so often represented by being eaten? We've read Green Eggs and Ham, laughed at Mr Tickle and whetted our appetites with The Very Hungry Caterpillar. But what lies behind the picture books that make up our childhood? Fierce Bad Rabbits takes us on an eye-opening journey in a pea-green boat through the history of picture books. From Edward Lear through to Beatrix Potter and contemporary picture books like Stick Man, Clare Pollard shines a light on some of our best-loved childhood stories, their histories and what they really mean. Because the best picture books are far more complex than they seem - and darker too. Monsters can gobble up children and go unnoticed, power is not always used wisely, and the wild things are closer than you think. Sparkling with wit, magic and nostalgia, Fierce Bad Rabbits weaves in tales from Clare's own childhood, and her re-readings as a parent, with fascinating facts and theories about the authors behind the books. Introducing you to new treasures while bringing your childhood favourites to vivid life, it will make you see even stories you've read a hundred times afresh. _________________________________ 'A gem, thoroughly enjoyable. Pollard has managed to dissect all our favourite stories with her scalpel, while leaving their magic intact' Spectator 'When I read Fierce Bad Rabbits, I thought, why has no one written this book before? But Clare Pollard has done so superbly - it is perceptive, illuminating, scholarly but at the same time entertaining. It should be essential reading for every thinking parent' Penelope Lively 'This book is a happy way to reconnect with old friends' Times 'Delightful . . . as good a guide as you can hope for' Harper's Bazaar


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'An enlightening, perceptive analysis of the books that build us' Sunday Telegraph, 5 star review ________________________________________ What is The Tiger Who Came to Tea really about? What has Meg and Mog got to do with Polish embroidery? Why is death in picture books so often represented by being eaten? We've read Green Eggs and Ham, laughed at Mr Tickle and whetted our ap 'An enlightening, perceptive analysis of the books that build us' Sunday Telegraph, 5 star review ________________________________________ What is The Tiger Who Came to Tea really about? What has Meg and Mog got to do with Polish embroidery? Why is death in picture books so often represented by being eaten? We've read Green Eggs and Ham, laughed at Mr Tickle and whetted our appetites with The Very Hungry Caterpillar. But what lies behind the picture books that make up our childhood? Fierce Bad Rabbits takes us on an eye-opening journey in a pea-green boat through the history of picture books. From Edward Lear through to Beatrix Potter and contemporary picture books like Stick Man, Clare Pollard shines a light on some of our best-loved childhood stories, their histories and what they really mean. Because the best picture books are far more complex than they seem - and darker too. Monsters can gobble up children and go unnoticed, power is not always used wisely, and the wild things are closer than you think. Sparkling with wit, magic and nostalgia, Fierce Bad Rabbits weaves in tales from Clare's own childhood, and her re-readings as a parent, with fascinating facts and theories about the authors behind the books. Introducing you to new treasures while bringing your childhood favourites to vivid life, it will make you see even stories you've read a hundred times afresh. _________________________________ 'A gem, thoroughly enjoyable. Pollard has managed to dissect all our favourite stories with her scalpel, while leaving their magic intact' Spectator 'When I read Fierce Bad Rabbits, I thought, why has no one written this book before? But Clare Pollard has done so superbly - it is perceptive, illuminating, scholarly but at the same time entertaining. It should be essential reading for every thinking parent' Penelope Lively 'This book is a happy way to reconnect with old friends' Times 'Delightful . . . as good a guide as you can hope for' Harper's Bazaar

30 review for Fierce Bad Rabbits: The Tales Behind Children's Picture Books

  1. 4 out of 5

    Claire Fuller

    Fierce Bad Rabbits is a history of children's picture books, interspersed with memories of Pollard's childhood and the books she reads to her own young children. Erudite but never stuffy, full of fascinating facts about writers and illustrators, Pollard has really done her research. I absolutely loved it, and it reminded me about some books I'd forgotten. My only regret was that it has languished on my 'to read' shelf for so long.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Farah Mendlesohn

    At its best when at its most personal. I definitely recommend it for a lovely exploration of *re-reading* and of the shift between childhood reading and adult reading. Pollard does a lovely job of sifting through some very silly academic interpretations of famous books (tho personally I do wonder if The Tiger Who Came to Tea actually began as a mish mash retelling of the feeding of AA Milne’s Tigger when he first arrives in The wood, no one seems to have noticed it’s the same story). Although Po At its best when at its most personal. I definitely recommend it for a lovely exploration of *re-reading* and of the shift between childhood reading and adult reading. Pollard does a lovely job of sifting through some very silly academic interpretations of famous books (tho personally I do wonder if The Tiger Who Came to Tea actually began as a mish mash retelling of the feeding of AA Milne’s Tigger when he first arrives in The wood, no one seems to have noticed it’s the same story). Although Pollard cites Jacqueline Rose the book - for me - demonstrates what I’ve been arguing for a while: children aren’t a separate species. We are the child we were; the child we were is us. Full disclosure. After reading this book which i’d bought *entirely* because it sounded good, I looked up the author and realised I’m an idiot. She’s the fantastic editor of Magazine of Poetry in Translation (which is why the consideration of children’s poetry here is superior to anything else I’ve read) and I am a Trustee of MPT.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carol Hislop

    This is a lovely book and reading it was like wandering down memory lane. The back stories about the authors were interesting too. It has made me look at picture books differently.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    The picture book business is a bunny-eat-bunny world, according to Clare Pollard. In her entertaining history, we learn that Beatrix Potter boiled the flesh off her dead pets so she could study their bones. That Maurice Sendak said all Dr. Seuss's drawings looked like bowel movements. Matching Sendak in viciousness, Alison Uttley described Beatrix Potter as rude and old, and Enid Blyton as "a vulgar curled woman." She in turn earned the soubriquet "the Pied Blighter." That Anthony Browne got bit The picture book business is a bunny-eat-bunny world, according to Clare Pollard. In her entertaining history, we learn that Beatrix Potter boiled the flesh off her dead pets so she could study their bones. That Maurice Sendak said all Dr. Seuss's drawings looked like bowel movements. Matching Sendak in viciousness, Alison Uttley described Beatrix Potter as rude and old, and Enid Blyton as "a vulgar curled woman." She in turn earned the soubriquet "the Pied Blighter." That Anthony Browne got bitten to the bone on meeting his first gorilla. That Babar, alas, is an Imperialist fable. Fierce Bad Rabbits indeed. A wonderful read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sophie Crane

    A mixture of autobiography and insights into the context that picture books were produced in. As well as the general historical and cultural context we get fascinating insights into writers/illustrators own biographies that framed the books they created. Picture books being what they are there is wonderful information into how particular artists created the images they did. Had me going back to the picture books on my bookshelves with a new appreciation of their craft as well as their message.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tweedledum

    A ten star book!!! A must for any book lover who has ever fallen in love with reading thanks to a wonderful picture book. Treat yourself and take a walk down memory lane with Clare Pollard, but be prepared for the real world to break in again and again and again. Authors of great picture books are real people with triumph and tragedy hidden sometimes even in their stories .

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carmel

    I loved this book - reminded me of so many favourites I’ve shared with my children and grandchild- and children I’ve taught over the years. I’m looking forward to re-reading some too. Highly recommend this to anyone with an interest in children’s literature.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ellie Page

    Fascinating and beautifully written.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chris Browning

    A glorious book: part history, part memoir, part academic essay, part polemic for why picture books are so important. Pollard is a wonderful writer - to the extent that you can almost hear her talking to you, guiding you through centuries of writers and ideas - and manages to delicately negotiate through well loved classics whilst also showing you new ways to think about them. She's also very funny and able to drop a huge amount of interesting facts without ever showing off. A wonderful book, a A glorious book: part history, part memoir, part academic essay, part polemic for why picture books are so important. Pollard is a wonderful writer - to the extent that you can almost hear her talking to you, guiding you through centuries of writers and ideas - and manages to delicately negotiate through well loved classics whilst also showing you new ways to think about them. She's also very funny and able to drop a huge amount of interesting facts without ever showing off. A wonderful book, a celebration but also an attempt to take the form seriously as an art. As someone who's basically dreamed of doing Picture Books for years it's made me even more determined. Shame there's no mention of the very greatest picture book of all time, The Story of Horace by Alice M Coats but maybe for the second edition?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kitty

    täitsa okei raamat, kui selline nišiteema nagu ingliskeelse maailma tuntuimad pildiraamatud peaks huvi pakkuma :) natuke nagu Lucy Mangani "Bookworm," aga kitsama skoobiga. raamjutustuseks on mälestused autori enda lapsepõlvest ja ettelugemiskogemustest emana; selle kaudu läbitakse pildiraamatute ajalugu ja tähtteosed, räägitakse natuke iga autori (nii kirjanike kui illustraatorite) elust ja teoste loomise taustast. üllatavalt palju traagikat tuleb sealt välja, suurem osa tähtsamaid autoreid on k täitsa okei raamat, kui selline nišiteema nagu ingliskeelse maailma tuntuimad pildiraamatud peaks huvi pakkuma :) natuke nagu Lucy Mangani "Bookworm," aga kitsama skoobiga. raamjutustuseks on mälestused autori enda lapsepõlvest ja ettelugemiskogemustest emana; selle kaudu läbitakse pildiraamatute ajalugu ja tähtteosed, räägitakse natuke iga autori (nii kirjanike kui illustraatorite) elust ja teoste loomise taustast. üllatavalt palju traagikat tuleb sealt välja, suurem osa tähtsamaid autoreid on kas ise tohutuid lapse- ja noorpõlvetraumasid üle elanud (sõja ajal kasvanud, evakueeritud, ise väga noorelt armeesse sattunud, põgenikud...) või neid oma lastele tekitanud (teadagi, Chritopher Robini kuulsusele ohverdatud lapsepõlv ja veel mõned sedasorti näited). selgub nt, et Enid Blyton oli totaalne rongaema, kes oleks arvanud! igatahes oli vahepeal liigutav ja suures osas mõtlemapanev ja tõenäoliselt unustan ma suure osa sellest kõigest üsna pea, aga tore oli teada saada ikka :)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    As a kindergarten teacher, this book is an ode to all the book I loved as a child and now as a teacher, with some new titles as well! I loved hearing the stories behind some best loved books, such as Where the Wild Things Are and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Pollard weaves in her own experiences of reading with her children as well memories of being read to as a child. Overall an excellent read for anyone who loves children's literature. Quotes: When we are small, the stories adults tell us shape As a kindergarten teacher, this book is an ode to all the book I loved as a child and now as a teacher, with some new titles as well! I loved hearing the stories behind some best loved books, such as Where the Wild Things Are and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Pollard weaves in her own experiences of reading with her children as well memories of being read to as a child. Overall an excellent read for anyone who loves children's literature. Quotes: When we are small, the stories adults tell us shape our world, our selves, our memories. The stories they choose to tell about our childhood, in a way, become our childhood. I wanted to be free but I kept biting my tongue. It occurred to me that this is what adulthood is. Yet we often fail to teach our children that 'good' is not something we are but something we do. When you love a small child, for a little while at least, their joy can be entirely within your gift... happy endings cost a few pence, are two-a-penny

  12. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    I don't often review books, at least only the dire ones! However this book is far from dire, it's an exquisite telling of the tales behind the books of our childhood, some familiar and some unfamiliar. I chose to buy it with my audible credit for the month and listen to it on Father's Day, my first Father's Day since my Dad died earlier this year. It was an emotional read and I will confess there were a few tears along the way but that was a reflection on the day and not on the book. I doubt I co I don't often review books, at least only the dire ones! However this book is far from dire, it's an exquisite telling of the tales behind the books of our childhood, some familiar and some unfamiliar. I chose to buy it with my audible credit for the month and listen to it on Father's Day, my first Father's Day since my Dad died earlier this year. It was an emotional read and I will confess there were a few tears along the way but that was a reflection on the day and not on the book. I doubt I could have chosen a better book to listen to today of all days and yet it was a book I hadn't heard of before yesterday. Normally I read books on my kindle rather than listen to audio books but I actually think this book is better on audio than it would have been if I'd read it, the author's own voices adds something to the experience and what better book to be read to you than one about books which are written to be read out loud. Everybody should buy and listen to this book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Colin

    This is the most thoroughly enjoyable, fascinating and life-affirming book I have read for a long time. An enlightening and informative tour through the history and development of children’s picture books, it combines personal experience, child psychology, cultural history and anecdote in just the right combination. I have to confess that the subject matter was a must for me as I spent many years of my life working with children’s books and had always thought that picture books in particular wer This is the most thoroughly enjoyable, fascinating and life-affirming book I have read for a long time. An enlightening and informative tour through the history and development of children’s picture books, it combines personal experience, child psychology, cultural history and anecdote in just the right combination. I have to confess that the subject matter was a must for me as I spent many years of my life working with children’s books and had always thought that picture books in particular were one of the unsung glories of the UK’s cultural life. Fierce Bad Rabbits takes a wider view, but nevertheless triumphantly supports that argument. A treat for parents, grown ups who still remember the experience of sharing books with a parent, and anyone interested in books and publishing from whatever angle.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    Can I give this ten stars?! Fifty?! This is an incredible book. I myself have never lost my love for the books of my childhood, never. One of the things I was most excited about when I was pregnant with my first child was that I was going to get to read a whole bunch of children’s books again. I was reading Hairy Maclary with my son the day we came home from the hospital. This book is an absolute joy, a celebration of children’s literature and full to the brim with interesting facts and tidbits. Can I give this ten stars?! Fifty?! This is an incredible book. I myself have never lost my love for the books of my childhood, never. One of the things I was most excited about when I was pregnant with my first child was that I was going to get to read a whole bunch of children’s books again. I was reading Hairy Maclary with my son the day we came home from the hospital. This book is an absolute joy, a celebration of children’s literature and full to the brim with interesting facts and tidbits. I have always wondered what The Tiger Who Came To Tea was about for example, and here all that wonder is, in a beautiful, clever book. I wanted to turn back to the front cover and read this again after I finished it but alas it must go back to the library, so I am going to go and buy a copy, today! Wonderful book, I want to give Clare Pollard a hug. A new favourite.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Saturday's Child

    The first thing that stood out to me was the title on the spine of this book, it immediately made me think of Beatrix Potter and her Fierce Bad Rabbit. When I removed it from the shelf I noticed the rest of the cover, that it was about children’s picture books. What is not to like about children’s picture books, no matter what age you are? When I started to read it and the author mentioned her love of Hilda Boswell’s Treasury of Poetry I knew that I had chosen to read a book that I would find mo The first thing that stood out to me was the title on the spine of this book, it immediately made me think of Beatrix Potter and her Fierce Bad Rabbit. When I removed it from the shelf I noticed the rest of the cover, that it was about children’s picture books. What is not to like about children’s picture books, no matter what age you are? When I started to read it and the author mentioned her love of Hilda Boswell’s Treasury of Poetry I knew that I had chosen to read a book that I would find most enjoyable.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Barnaby Haszard

    Fleeting, fascinating glimpses of the reality behind picture books, and a superb argument for taking this medium as seriously as any other -- Pollard deeply believes these books are a huge part of what shaped her as a person, and that the same is now happening with her children. I always find it infuriating when people dismiss children's or young adult books as beneath them, and look down on other grown-ups who dare to read them -- sometimes openly! Now I can just recommend they read this book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gemma Scott

    I haven't been so gutted to finish a book in ages! I really looked forward to reading a little of this book every night. My husband kept asking me what I was doing as I would every now and then make surprised noises at the random facts or laugh at the way Pollard phrased something. I found this really interesting and entertaining on so many levels, would definitely recommend!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Witt

    Fascinating read about many books that were bought and read to me as a child and I remember many of them. This book also provides a brief biography of some authors and their backgrounds, which explains why they wrote in a particular style or theme.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    No doubt in my five-start rating. Just sobbing now I’ve finished it. Anyone who loves children’s books (that’s probably you) will find a lot to love here. Deeply personal, beautifully described, sober, romantic (in the original sense), informative and always a joy to read. Hard recommend.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Jeffrey

    A brief canter through the history of books aimed at young children. It included many of my favourite books which I read to my own children. It concludes with a satisfying list of the author’s top 50 books.

  21. 4 out of 5

    K Olsen

    Fascinating and engaging. Delving into the history, influence and importance of picture books, interwoven with the personal history of the author. This was a non-fiction book with depth and personality.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    A fascinating read - part history, part literary analysis and part personal memoir by someone who has a passion for picture books rooted in her own childhood and her love for her father and further enhanced by motherhood and her own poetry. I wanted more and was sad when I finished it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bob Mccow

    Great, a very personal look at some of the children's picture books that have had an impact on children. But I think there's a more interesting, in depth study to be written on the authors of these books.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

    Darling, it's because all they want is what they already had; to repeat it over

  25. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    Not for me. Reads more like a thesis around themes across a number of books. I also didn't enjoy the autobiographical bits.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    Absolutely fascinating to read. Love learning about the history of children's books.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jools

    A brilliant read, showcasing the genius of children's literature, and the hardships behind where some of our favourite tales have come from. A must for anyone who has ever picked up a picture book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tina Ambury

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Not only was it fascinating and very informative, I loved the author's personal stories. Recommended

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elliott

    This was so lovely to read!! Pollard has definitely done her research, and I can’t wait to read more of her work. (Also found out nearly every Children’s book author is Jewish, hell yeah baybeee)

  30. 4 out of 5

    BookBairn

    A fascinating read for anyone who wants to know more about the history of picture books, their creators and the stories behind the stories. Written in a a wonderful readable way, I feel this author and I have lots of passion for children's books in common.

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