Learning to read

Learning to read

The Rabbits

By John Marsden
Illustrated by Shaun Tan
Published by Hodder

Paperback

Price £9.99
9780734411365
Publisher Hodder

A powerful allegory depicting the devastating effects of colonialism. The language used is deceptively simple and evokes a strong response as the reader comes to a gradual realisation of the situation and the implications. The Australian setting becomes apparent near the end through the vocabulary ‘billabong’ and ‘gum trees’ but the message is universal and the circumstances could apply to a number of places, in the past and the present. The surreal and abstract illustrations are in a variety of styles and media. The rabbits who take over the land are recognisable as such – however, they are portrayed in an elongated and angular manner and they are not individualised, more like automatons, and their actions are mechanistic.