Friday, September 19, 2008

The Rabbits' Wedding

The Rabbits' Wedding
Garth Williams
Harper & Row, 1958

Since starting this blog over a year ago (has it really been a year!?!), many of you have brought up this book as one of your childhood favorites. I never owned it myself, and honestly, I had never really read it all the way through until last week. We checked it out from the library, and even the librarian remarked on the controversy it caused back in the day. According to The Encyclopedia of Censorship via the Wiki...

The Rabbits' Wedding by Garth Williams, was transferred from the open shelves to the reserved shelves at the Montgomery (Alabama) Public Library in 1959 because an illustration shows a black buck rabbit with a white doe rabbit. Such miscegenation, stated an editor in Orlando, was "brainwashing . . . as soon as you pick up the book and open its pages you realize these rabbits are integrated." The Montgomery Home News added that the book was integrationist propaganda obviously aimed at children in their formative years.

How such a sweet little book could cause such a stink I'll never know. It was a different world back them. For me, I'm taken by how obviously titillating the story is. It has more romance in it that a lot of the crappy date movies you see nowadays, and I could actually see giving this as a wedding present. When the two rabbits begin to express their feelings for each other, their wide-eyed expressions say as much (or more) as any kiss or caress.

"What are you always thinking about?"
asked the little white rabbit.
"I'm just thinking about my wish," replied the little black rabbit.
"What is your wish?" asked the little white rabbit.
"I just wish that I could be with you forever and always,"
replied the little black rabbit.
The little white rabbit opened her eyes very wide
and thought very hard.
"Why don't you wish a little harder?"
asked the little white rabbit.

Come on... is that sexy or what!?! The way these two rabbits interact with each other is exactly the way I see my son reacting to ladies he thinks are "cute." Such an honest and lovely story... I'm sorry now I've been missing it all these years.

Also by:
Wait Til the Moon is Full
Do You Know What I'll Do?
The Sky Was BlueThree Bedtime Stories
The Friendly Book


Edi said...

Garth Williams is one of my favorite illustrators...interesting to read that this book was somewhat "banned" for the black rabbit/white rabbit theme...reading it today I never would have thought that the intention was to indoctrinate children on interracial marriage!

Anonymous said...

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Candice Ransom

TheAuthor said...

oh we love this book in our house - the closest my sons come to Romance Reading

Anna said...

Just ran across your blog googling the Little Fur Family. My 14 month old loves it, and I was wondering whether Garth Williams might have been commenting on integration in his choice of fur color/interspecies romance in Little Fur Family. Now I have to get the Rabbits' Wedding too!

Kate G. Smith said...

My grandmother was the county librarian in Montgomery, Alabama, though I don't know which years. Her name was Tommie Lacy and I know she drove the bookmobile.

Guess what? I HAVE THIS BOOK. THE book! It is marked as discarded and she brought it home, where my sister and I would read it when we went to visit her. And she gave it to me when she moved to assisted living. It is on my bookshelf of vintage children's books, and I've read it to my children. I remember as a small child thinking that the story wasn't really about rabbits; it was about people, and yeah! Black people and white people should get married if they want! Made sense to me even as a little kid.

However, you've opened up another side of the story for me. Now I have to go do some research and talk to my aunt about what she knows about that book! My grandmother still had the book in the mini-library in the guest room where I stayed in her house in the 1970s, so she obviously valued it enough to keep it. Thanks for the information!

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