Book Report #20: Richard Adams, Watership Down
But I was busy.
I first read this book when I was in first grade, I believe. It was the older paperback edition, with the tan cover with the wheel. A friend of my mother's gave me that copy, probably quite bemused that such a small person wanted to read a grownup book. (I read The Plague Dogs not too much later, and it scarred me for life. It's very interesting how much of my childhood is clearly linked in my head to books: I remember when I was three or four, looking at the pictures in my mother's copy of The Black Stallion Challenged and being frustrated that I could not read the words yet. I can remember where I was sitting, in fact. Don't ask me the name of my first grade teacher, though, because I don't recall it.)
And I've reread it a bunch of times since. (I think this was #26, but I might have lost one in there somewhere.) I reread it to pieces. Twice. I loved it, I think, because the rabbits succeed by being smart and tough and determined. And smart. And mostly, smart.
And by never giving up.
I suspect whatever it was that I absorbed from that is part of what's gotten me through life so far.
I am amused that this edition still has the typo in the first line of page 59 that I remember from my childhood: "After some time, Hazel woke Buckhorn." And yes, I remember that typo. Apparently, I am not the only one who cannot get stuff fixed in later editions.
Anyway, it holds up. Maybe a bit sentimental in places, but I remember being absolutely chilled by a lot of it when I was younger, and I still found it engaging and often gorgeously written. One of the best recent uses of omniscient I've read... where recent is the last thirty-two years, dear me. This book is the same age as John Henry.
Well, it would have to be, wouldn't it, for me to have read it in first grade?
You know, reading it as an adult? Bigwig is less of a jerk than I remembered. I think as a child I must have been very very firmly on Fiver's side.
But Blackberry and Dandelion were always my favorites. And Blackavar, when we finally meet him. And the last third of the book is the part I really love.
Also, I like the alien perspective. They're such very English rabbits. And yet they are very rabbity rabbits too, small and living in a world full of things that want to eat them, for all you half expect them to sit down to tea and cucumber sandwiches at any given moment.
"There's a large dog loose in the wood."