Read The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies by Beatrix Potter Free Online
Book Title: The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies|
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The author of the book: Beatrix Potter
Edition: Frederick Warne and Company
Date of issue: July 1909
ISBN 13: 9780723206019
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 783 KB
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The Tale of The Flopsy Bunnies is the fourteenth book in Beatrix Potter's famous series of 23 little children's books, which are mainly about animals. The author wrote these between 1902–1930, and they were published by Frederick Warne. She had already written two full-length tales with a rabbit as the central character, for this publisher, "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" and "The Tale of Benjamin Bunny", and felt reluctant to write another. However, the demand from her young audience was so great, that she wrote The Tale of The Flopsy Bunnies, featuring both Peter and Benjamin, and adding new characters. It was published in 1909.
The watercolour depictions of the garden in the background are simply beautiful, and considered to be some of the finest illustrations Beatrix Potter created. For her inspiration here, she had looked to a semi-formal garden of archways and flowerbeds at the home of her aunt and uncle in Wales. It is perhaps no surprise that Beatrix Potter's illustrations are so carefully executed, and so detailed. She had been a respected watercolourist, illustrating plant life, insects, fossils and various archaeological artefacts, as well as the pets and small animals she had always painted, even as a child. Prior to these books featuring rabbits, she had also previously, in 1893, illustrated the "Uncle Remus" stories by Joel Chandler Harris. However, the rabbits invented by Beatrix Potter are very different from Joel Chandler Harris's cunning and wily character of "Brer Rabbit". Beatrix Potter's rabbits are from a gentler world. They are equally keen to have adventures, and are full of mischief, but they are mostly motivated by a sense of fun.
This story is a perfect example. It has danger certainly, and a few heart-stopping moments. But there is little sense of planning in the trickery; it is more a case of "turning the tables" and playing tricks on the big people, in a strong mischievous spirit which young children will recognise and love. There is also another life lesson here too for youngsters. We learn that it was the importunance of the parents, their constant having to "borrow" from Flopsy's brother Peter, which led to their young being put into great danger.
But the story is a light hearted one for all that. The book starts,
“It is said that the effect of eating too much lettuce is 'soporific'.”
And because the author has introduced a word which few children listening to this will ever have encountered, she quickly goes on to explain (with a definition) in a chummy way,
“I have never felt sleepy after eating lettuces; but then I am not a rabbit.”
And opposite the text, we have a naturalistic illustration of several little rabbits, all asleep on their backs against a lettuce plant. Perfect!
The book instantly flashes back to how Benjamin Bunny had married his Cousin Flopsy, and being very "improvident and cheerful" the consequence was ... quite a lot of little "Flopsy Bunnies". In fact they had not always enough cabbages to go round their large family, so often used to ask for some from Flopsy's brother, who was, (fanfare please!) Peter Rabbit. But when Peter had no cabbages to spare, we all know who he had to get them from ... Mr. McGregor.
The story follows all the nameless little Flopsy Bunnies (there are too many to remember their names, the author assures us) as they go scavenging in Mr. Mcgregor's rubbish heap, finding enough lettuces to make them very drowsy indeed, and to have to indulge in a little nap. I particularly enjoyed the picture of Peter Rabbit, complete with paper bag over his head to keep off the flies! But when Mr. McGregor returns and empties some lawn clippings over the little Flopsy Bunnies, he spies what might be the tips of six little pairs of ears peeping out and ...
Oh calamity! These six little rabbits are destined for the pot! How they eventually escape, is down to a new character, brave little Thomasina Tittlemouse, a woodmouse with a long tail (and very sharp teeth). Mrs. Tittlemouse is herself honoured, featuring as the central character in a book the following year.
The ensuing adventure is very exciting, as we follow the distress of Flopsy (wondering where all her little bunnies have disappeared to), the clever contrivances of Benjamin and Thomasina, the glee of Mr. McGregor, followed by a scolding by his wife, who had ambitious but nasty plans on what to use the rabbits for, and accused her husband of having "done it a purpose". It ends with a very crestfallen Mr. McGregor, and a cute little codicil, about how the Flopsy Bunnies rewarded Thomasina Tittlemouse.
The Tale of The Flopsy Bunnies has all the classic hallmarks of one of the best Beatrix Potter stories. It is a timeless story of danger and friendship. Little children will hug themselves, first with fear as the rabbits are in danger of their lives, and then with glee as Mr. McGregor is outwitted. The pictures beautifully illustrate how all the animals watch as their plan goes into action.
We used to visit the Lake District every year, to try some of the more gentle climbs up the fells. We stayed in a guest house in Near Sawrey. Just along the road is another little village called Far Sawrey, where we sometimes visited Beatrix Potter's house "Hill Top". Her furnishings are still there and much of her memorabilia. Beatrix Potter had bought "Hill Top", in her beloved Lake District, in 1905 with the profits from her books and a small legacy left to her by her aunt. A working farm, which she continued to maintain all her life, "Hill Top" soon became a retreat, and her home away from London, as Beatrix Potter established her life and career there.
After three years in her new home, Beatrix Potter wrote a four-page letter with illustrations of the rabbits in her garden at "Hill Top", to one of her young fans, “dear little William Warner”. She said that she was “trying dreadfully hard to think about another story about ‘Peter’” because “all the little boys and girls like the rabbits best”. But so far she hadn't managed to think of one.
“I thinked and thinked and thinked last year; but I didn’t think enough to fill a book! … So I made a story about Jemima Puddleduck instead – and it will be in the shops very soon. I hope you will like it.”
“The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck” was number twelve in the series, and was published in 1908. Only a few months later, in the autumn of 1908, Beatrix Potter wrote to her publisher Harold Warne saying that she had several ideas for new books. These included the book which is reviewed here, The Tale of The Flopsy Bunnies, which was intended as a sequel to "The Tale of Benjamin Bunny", as it featured Benjamin's offspring, the Flopsy Bunnies. Another tale she sent Warne was about the village shop in Far Sawrey. That story eventually became the next one, "The Tale of Ginger and Pickles", number fifteen in the series. Both books were subsequently published after the letter, during the next year, 1909.
Spurred on by the fact that the very letter to “dear little William” is to be auctioned this weekend, I read this little book, and was enchanted. Here is the final page of the letter. What a privileged little boy William Warne was, to be sure!
Last time we visited "Hill Top", we wandered around the pretty cottage garden. It has a large vegetable patch, which is maintained much as it would have been when Beatrix Potter lived there. The carrots, lettuces and radishes all grow in neat rows, exactly as if Mr. McGregor had just popped inside for a moment. It is so very easy to imagine the tips of a few furry "Flopsy Bunny" ears sticking up out of a pile of grass clippings. Or a glimpse of Benjamin's bright little eyes in a furry face peeping out at you from behind the lettuces.
Or perhaps ... just maybe ... it is not merely the imagination at work.
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Read information about the authorHelen Beatrix Potter was an English author, illustrator, mycologist, and conservationist who was best known for her children's books, which featured animal characters such as Peter Rabbit.
Born into a privileged household, Potter was educated by governesses, and grew up isolated from other children. She had numerous pets and through holidays in Scotland and the Lake District developed a love of landscape, flora and fauna, all of which she closely observed and painted. As a young woman her parents discouraged intellectual development, but her study and paintings of fungi led her to be widely respected in the field of mycology. In her thirties Potter published the highly successful children's book The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and became secretly engaged to her publisher, Norman Warne, causing a breach with her parents, who disapproved of his social status. Warne died before the wedding could take place.
Potter eventually published 24 children's books, the most recent being The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots (2016), and having become financially independent of her parents, was able to buy a farm in the Lake District, which she extended with other purchases over time. In her forties she married a local solicitor, William Heelis. She became a sheep breeder and farmer while continuing to write and illustrate children's books. Potter died in 1943, and left almost all of her property to The National Trust in order to preserve the beauty of the Lake District as she had known it, protecting it from developers.
Potter's books continue to sell well throughout the world, in multiple languages. Her stories have been retold in various formats, including a ballet, films and in animation.
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