In 1902, Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit was published, and Potter created a character that would be remembered for years to come.
Potter instantly transports readers into a world of fantasy and action as she begins the story with, “Once upon a time.” Given the age of the story, some language is antiquated, yet it pairs nicely with the older style of drawings. Potter strikes the perfect balance between suspenseful and engaging for children while still using storybook and old English grammar. Because of the age, Potter’s word choice may be challenging for some children, but it provides a wonderful breath of fresh air compared to many contemporary picture books.
The illustrations are lifelike and detailed show fine lines. Because everything, including the shading of colors, is hand-drawn, the drawings show their age as they obviously do not use computers to fill in colors. The illustrator uses a simple, muted color palette so as to represent nature, but she uses a few bright colors to attract attention and draw the eye in.
Peter’s tale shows the trials that may arise when one disobeys a parent, which is prudent for young children. While this book may be used as a foreboding tale against rebellion, especially to children, Peter seems to only be meant to entertain and let readers escape into a magical land. As adults look back on this childhood memory, the delight and anticipation are more memorable than the moral.
Meant to excite young children, this book inspired a following of Peter Rabbit merchandise in order to continually bring out the childlike wonder in all of us. While children may enjoy reading The Tale of Peter Rabbit, more enjoyable are the timeless illustrations and story coupled with fond memories of youth.