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Margery Williams Bianco was inspired by her children’s creativity to write The Velveteen Rabbit or “How Toys Become Real.” “The Velveteen Rabbit” was her first American book, published in 1922 for the first time. It has since been republished consistently. This classic children’s book still inspires children to believe their beloved toys can become real through love and nursery magic.
The book tells the story of a velveteen Rabbit who becomes real in his boy’s eyes. When the boy becomes ill with scarlet fever, the Rabbit stays in bed with him, whispering to him about adventures yet to come. But the boy’s doctor contends the Rabbit must be burned with the boy’s other toys in order to rid the boy’s room of scarlet fever germs. The Rabbit is carried out to be burned But is rescued by the nursery magic fairy, who makes toys real when they are not needed anymore.
Velveteen Rabbit Quotes
- “Weeks passed, and the little Rabbit grew very old and shabby, But the Boy loved him just as much. He loved him so hard that He loved all his whiskers off, and the pink lining to his ears turned grey, and his brown spots faded. He Even began to lose his shape, and He scarcely looked like a Rabbit any more, except to the Boy.”
- “Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, But REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
- “For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.”
- “He was naturally shy, and being only made of velveteen, some of the more expensive toys quite snubbed him. The mechanical toys were very superior, and looked down upon every one else; they were full of modern ideas, and pretended they were real […] Between them all the poor little Rabbit was made to feel himself very insignificant and commonplace, and the only person who was kind to him at all was the Skin Horse.”
- “He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished that He could become it without these.”
- “The Rabbit could not claim to be a model of anything, for He didn’t know that real rabbits existed; he thought they were all stuffed with sawdust like himself, and He understood that sawdust was quite out-of-date and should never be mentioned in modern circles.”
- “Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
- “That was a great many years ago; But once you are real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
- “It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.”
- “What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
- “To him (the boy) He was always beautiful, and that was all that the little Rabbit cared about. He didn’t mind how He looked to other people, because the nursery magic had made him Real, and when you are real shabbiness doesn’t matter.”
- “The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces.”
- “He was wise, for He had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and He knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else.”
- “‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit. ‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for He was always truthful. ‘When you are real you don’t mind being hurt.’ ‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ He asked, ‘or bit by bit?'”
- “‘I suppose you are real’ said the Rabbit. And then He wished He had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled. “The Boy’s Uncle made me Real,” He said. ‘That was a great many years ago; But once you are real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.'”
- “There was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning He was really splendid. He was fat and bunchy, as a Rabbit should be; his coat was spotted brown and white, He had real thread whiskers, and his ears were lined with pink sateen. On Christmas morning, when He sat wedged in the top of the Boy’s stocking, with a sprig of holly between his paws, the effect was charming.”
- “Even Timothy, the jointed wooden lion, who was made by the disabled soldiers, and should have had broader views, put on airs and pretended He was connected with Government. Between them all the poor little Rabbit was made to feel himself very insignificant and commonplace, and the only person who was kind to him at all was the Skin Horse.”
- “You must have your old Bunny!” she said. “Fancy all that fuss for a toy!” The Boy sat up in bed and stretched out his hands. “Give me my Bunny!” He said. “You mustn’t say that. He isn’t a toy. He’s REAL!”
- “Near the house where they lived there was a wood, and in the long June evenings the Boy liked to go there after tea to play. He took the Velveteen Rabbit with him, and before He wandered off to pick flowers, or play at brigands among the trees, He always made the Rabbit a little nest somewhere among the bracken, where He would be quite cosy, for He was a kind-hearted little boy and He liked Bunny to be comfortable.”
- “‘I am Real!’ said the little Rabbit. “I am Real! The Boy said so!” And He nearly began to cry.”
- “And while the Boy was asleep, dreaming of the seaside, the little Rabbit lay among the old picture-books in the corner behind the fowl-house, and He felt very lonely. The sack had been left untied, and so by wriggling a bit He was able to get his head through the opening and look out. He was shivering a little, for He had always been used to sleeping in a proper bed, and by this time his coat had worn so thin and threadbare from hugging that it was no longer any protection to him.”
- “It was a long weary time, for the Boy was too ill to play, and the little Rabbit found it rather dull with nothing to do all day long. But He snuggled down patiently, and looked forward to the time when the Boy should be well again, and they would go out in the garden amongst the flowers and the butterflies and play splendid games in the raspberry thicket like they used to. All sorts of delightful things He planned, and while the Boy lay half asleep He crept up close to the pillow and whispered them in his ear. “
- “Hurrah!” thought the little Rabbit. “To-morrow we shall go to the seaside!” For the boy had often talked of the seaside, and He wanted very much to see the big waves coming in, and the tiny crabs, and the sand castles. Just then Nana caught sight of him. “How about his old Bunny?” she asked. “That?” said the doctor. “Why, it’s a mass of scarlet fever germs!–Burn it at once. What? Nonsense! Get him a new one. He mustn’t have that any more!”
- “He thought of the Skin Horse, so wise and gentle, and all that He had told him. Of what use was it to be loved and lose one’s beauty and become real if it all ended like this? And a tear, a real tear, trickled down his little shabby velvet nose and fell to the ground.”
- “And then a strange thing happened. For where the tear had fallen a flower grew out of the ground, a mysterious flower, not at all like any that grew in the garden. It had slender green leaves the colour of emeralds, and in the centre of the leaves a blossom like a golden cup. It was so beautiful that the little Rabbit forgot to cry, and just lay there watching it. And presently the blossom opened, and out of it there stepped a fairy.”
- “‘Little Rabbit,’ she said, “don’t you know who I am?” The Rabbit looked up at her, and it seemed to him that He had seen her face before, but He couldn’t think where. “I am the nursery magic Fairy,” she said. “I take care of all the playthings that the children have loved. When they are old and worn out and the children don’t need them any more, then I come and take them away with me and turn them into Real.” “Wasn’t I real before?” asked the little Rabbit. “You were real to the Boy,” the Fairy said, ‘because He loved you. Now you shall be real to every one.'”
- “Autumn passed and Winter, and in the Spring, when the days grew warm and sunny, the Boy went out to play in the wood behind the house. And while He was playing, two rabbits crept out from the bracken and peeped at him. One of them was brown all over, But the other had strange markings under his fur, as though long ago He had been spotted, and the spots still showed through. And about his little soft nose and his round black eyes there was something familiar, so that the Boy thought to himself: “Why, He looks just like my old Bunny that was lost when I had scarlet fever!” But He never knew that it really was his own Bunny, come back to look at the child who had first helped him to be Real.”
Although “The Velveteen Rabbit” is a children’s book, it has a large following among adults who also want to be real. These touching quotes remind us all that we become truly human, or “real” through love, and perhaps a bit of magic.
We all understand that becoming real can hurt, But you don’t mind that so much when you are real. Once you have been genuinely loved unconditionally, you can become real. Use these delightful quotes to help you remember we are all in the process of becoming something amazing.