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Synopsis

The Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real was Margery Williams Bianco's first American work, and it remains her most famous. It became an instant classic and has remained so through numerous adaptations in children's theater as well as on radio, television and in the movies. The author's trademark undercurrents of sentimentality and sadness persist in the tale of a small boy whose Christmas present is a toy rabbit. The boy quickly discards the toy after playing with it for a few hours in the bustle of Christmas and relatives. In the nursery the rabbit is looked down on by the fancier wind up toys, but a skin horse tells him they will eventually break, but that the rabbit has the potential to become real. One night when the boy cannot find the china dog he always sleeps with, his Nana gives him the rabbit. The boy comes to adore the rabbit, making it tunnels in his bed, and giving him rides in his wheelbarrow. This happy existence continues until the boy contracts scarlet fever. The rabbit stays with him, whispering to him of the games they will play again when he is better. As the boy gets better his family prepares to take him to the seaside. Although the rabbit looks forward to the seaside very much, the doctor insists he be thrown out and burned along with the other toys for health reasons. While the rabbit is waiting to be burned, he cries a real tear, from which a fairy emerges. The fairy tells the rabbit that he was real to the boy, because the boy loved him, but now she will make him truly real. Later, after the boy has received a new toy rabbit, he sees his old rabbit in the garden. He thinks it looks like his old rabbit, but he does not know that it really is the velveteen rabbit he once loved. The events described are seen from the rabbit's point of view and end on an inspirationally uplifting note.

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