Sunday, May 3, 2009

Watership Down

Don't know what a down is? It's a field or meadow, in England. The rabbits are on a journey to a place good for rabbits, a place faraway from humans and the noises they make, a place on the high downs.
A rabbit named Fiver (he was the fifth in the litter and the author tells us that rabbits can only count to five)
has premonitions and the other rabbits don't think a thing about it. Then one day Fiver has a premonition that the warren is about to be destroyed and he feels it is only right that he warn as many rabbits as he can so that they can save themselves. He visits the chief rabbit but alas, he is not believed. He did not expect to be believed but he had to try. His next job is to convince as many rabbits as he can before he leaves to abandon the warren and go off into the wild. It is the right thing to do and yet he and his friend Hazel know it is dangerous, it is like mutiny to the warren and they expect to be attacked at any moment.
So starts the adventures Fiver, Hazel, Bigwig, Blackberry and maybe others that I have forgotten. I know however that I shall never forget this special book.
Fiver has one of his dreams that are visions and he sees a man standing by a sign with black marks on it. Fiver knows that the black sticks on the flat wooden surface mean something, but he does not know what it is. The man laughs at the frightened and trembling rabbit and says that is why the man hunts the rabbit, because the rabbit cannot read the black sticks. The sign actually says that the land is the new site of new homes and about to be bulldozed, but Fiver doesn't know that. He only knows that disaster is coming closer and closer to the warren.
What people remember though about this book are the beautiful descriptions in it, I never knew the names of so many different things that rabbits eat. The author really knows everything there is to know about wild rabbits.
My daughter's English teacher says this book is a classic, I never knew very many classics that I actually enjoyed reading. My daughter was forced to read "Lord of the Flies" for school and other books that quite frankly make me wonder "What are these people thinking?"
This book is not without danger and tragedy but it is so beautiful it made me cry.
I will never look at a rabbit the same way again.

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