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The Rabbits

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  3,654 ratings  ·  311 reviews
Uses rabbits, a species introduced to Australia, to represent an allegory of the arrival of Europeans in Australia and the widespread environmental destruction caused by man throughout the continent.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 15th 2003 by Simply Read Books (first published 1998)
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4.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,654 ratings  ·  311 reviews

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Apr 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Rabbits by John Marsden and Shaun Tan is a book about environmental issues created by man.

After reading The Arrival we quickly became hooked on Shaun Tan's draftmanship. It's amazing how a book with very few words and mainly illustrations can send such a powerful message that will leave you pondering.

This story by John Marsden paired with Shaun Tan's visually stimulating illustrations makes this one that will stay with me forever. I thoroughly enjoyed talking and brainstorming with childr
Jan 31, 2013 rated it really liked it

We are a plague species. Using his unique, beautiful visual language, Tan explains just what that means.
Nov 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Illustrated by Shaun Tan, this book is just as good as The Red Tree in the way it takes very simple text and evocative pictures to communicate a complex, emotional message. When the Rabbits come to Australia, the native animals try to be welcoming, but soon find themselves overrun. Several pages gave me a lump in my throat; the images just do such a good job of communicating helplessness, loss, and grief. I admire how well Shaun Tan can produce such a monumental sense of space in his pictures.

Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Hilary by: Found in the library
Strangely the copy I took out of the library does not mention that this is an allegory of white people immigrating to Australia, I discovered this by reading goodreads reviews. Without that knowledge it reads like the story is about immigration destroying your country-which it was but I think the bit about Australia needs to be explained.
I'd love to give this two different ratings. One for the stunning artwork, which consistently says more and says it better than the text. My students and I pour over the art work for ages, looking at the use of a skull and crossbones style Union Jack, the 'logic' of maths and science symbols which were used to rationalise so much of what the early European settlers did in Australia, the numbers attached to everything, the repeating of motifs throughout the book. As a visual literacy text, I easi ...more
Dec 19, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: evil-kids-books
So. . . this is a pretty obvious allegory posing as a children’s book, but which will be of interest mainly to Leftist adults. It portrays white Europeans as big rodents moving into, say, Australia or North America and bringing all their baggage and bulldozing the native peoples and environment. And the story (although, this is really a story only by the greatest distortion of the term) ends with this line, dripping with bathos: “Who will save us from the rabbits?”

It’s such a strange, hypocritic
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Finally! I've been trying to get hold of this book for ages.
It came in to the library today, so I sat down and read it. And re-read it. And read it again.
How amazing, all of these children's books that are written these days, designed to teach kids about unpleasant things in a less abrasive way.
The Rabbits is about colonization. The Rabbits are the English, arriving in Australia and making life hell for the native Australian animals. It's great.
I'm ashamed to say that I knew very little about th
Aug 31, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
Recommended to Relyn by: I love the illustrator
What is it with all the fables and allegories being published for children?? KNOCK IT OFF!! Give us a good story! Yikes, I really hated this book! It's like here's some gorgeous art served with a heaping helping of guilt and a lesson or two. YUCK. I read it because I love Shaun Tan's art. But, please!
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture

I read this in the collection Tan "Lost & Found". I liked it, although Marsden is more heavy-handed in his point-making than Tan, who tends to be more about subtly observing and depicting mood.

I can see why some readers complained that it seemed anti-immigrant, but I think for Australians or people who know a bit about colonial history the mapping is so historically direct that it is obvious what is being described (i.e. English colonialism in Australia and destruction of the ecology).
Oliver Neal
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
I feel that the message of this book is so strong that it WARRENted not LITTERing this review with an aBUNNYdance of puns.

Seriously though, this made my HARES stand on end.
Ooooh, this is such a great picture book. The illustrations and text are a perfect marriage. Shaun Tan composes complex, layered images. John Marsden's text is spare and controlled. Pairing the simplicity of text with the rich illustrations makes the ideas raised in the book more resonant.

"The Rabbits" could be interpreted as just a cautionary allegory about man's effect on the natural world. However, the references to Australia's history are hardly subtle (the Union Jack in stylized form appea
Tammy Flanders
This book has so much potential as a great classroom resource. There are lots of levels of complexity to explore depending on the grade being taught. For instance, I've had a student teacher tell me they've used this with grade 4 (around 9 or 10 years old) about Canadian history and treaties with First Nations peoples. I see connections with higher grades related to colonization and imperialism. Also, great for teaching about allegory as a literary device in language arts.
Knowing the impact of r
Kelly H. (Maybedog)
May 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: how-picture-book
Tan illustrates this heart-wrenching story by John Marsden of a world overcome by things that don’t belong. Having just read Billy Bryson’s book about Australia, I knew immediately that the story was both about white people coming to Australia as well as the rabbits they brought with them that have destroyed so much of Australia’s wild beauty. The artwork is stunning as usual and, combined with the text, almost brought tears to my eyes.
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read this for school and found it to be very interesting and engaging(although it is short). I especially loved the art work I thought it was quite phenomenal. It was an interesting way to show Australias history regarding the British settlers and the native aboriginals.
Donald Armfield
"Who will save us from the Rabbits?"
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book smoulders with profound emotions and ruminations on the human nature and our history. The rabbits are, naturally, an allegory of humans, our greed, desire to dominate, subjugate and control. The change of the colour palette is worth noticing - the rabbits come to a world teeming with life, tranquility and exuberance, but when they commence their dire process of subjugation and they usher in a full-throttle industrial revolution, the colours become grim, murky and depressing.
This is no
Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The rabbits is a mesmerizing picture book which depicts the story of the colonisation of Australia. You know a book is a priceless treasure when it touches your heart .
The book gave me something text books and documentaries could not this picture book , through simple words , short sentences and brilliant images, allowed me to feel the raw emotions of the indigenous Australians . The solemn atmosphere and feeling from the book cannot be describe.
I praise John Marsden and Shaun Tan who succes
Anne Hamilton
Feb 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
It's a love-hate relationship with this book. Gorgeous illustrations and an allegorical message that should be light and deft but somehow comes across as being heavy-handed and a touch hypocritical.

It isn't a book for children which is why it's shelved on my 'pseudo-kids' bookshelf. It's going to go over the heads of most of them, even into their teenage years. Trust me, I've taught thousands of 12-17 year olds and, without an explanation about the parable/metaphor, the message about colonisatio
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
This is a children's picture book, but I'm not sure younger children will "get it". It's ostensibly about the invasion of one species (rabbits) into a land already inhabited by another. The rabbits do all sorts of harm to the environment, and nothing is the same. Older children may grasp its allegorical meaning.
David Schaafsma
Nov 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picturebooks
Colonialism and the damage that it did in Australia, but told from the perspective of what white folks brought in that destroyed so much: rabbits. Still a story about colonialism, but the angle is fresh. And maybe more powerful for that. Great stuff.
Millie May
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uni-reads
This book is truley amazing - such deep and raw connections to history that people overlook. John Marsden and Shaun Tan aren't afraid to write political books and more people should be educated on their work.
Jessica Rawden

This is one of those books that should not really be in a children's section. It is a book considered for grades 2-8, but I would highly suggest the book only for older kids. The illustrations, by Shaun Tan, are incredible (up to par in complication with David Wiesner). If you haven't gotten your hands on some of his weird images yet, I would highly suggest you do so.

John Marsden is known for his post-apocalyptic young adult stories including Tomorrow
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: eco
This is a stunning piece. The visuals are simply amazing and worth poring over repeatedly. The text is an allegory, but quite a clever one. It's about the colonists who came to Australia, but they are represented here by rabbits, which in Australia were an invasive species. Mardsen is an Australian sci-fi writer and Shaun Tan is an incredible illustrator.
Oct 02, 2016 marked it as not-in-rolla-okc-wi-but-want
Shelves: to-enjoy-again
I read this cold, years ago, and was deeply disturbed. It struck me as an 'art' book for adults. Now I see here that kids are reading it. I'll have to find a copy again somehow someday for a fresh look.
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
lmao we read in class but i guess that count? xD
Rory Wise
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
An interesting commentary on colonisation. A clever choice of symbolic animal, given the issues rabbits caused in Australia.
Bethany North
Nov 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Rabbits by John Marsden and Shaun Tan is a picture book about colonisation of Australia by England. It depicts how the English (the rabbits) travelled overseas and invaded Australia. The book portrays the destructive nature of the invasion and its implications on the indigenous people. Not having an in depth understanding of this particular event meant that I initially read it and interpreted it as a story general to humanity and immigration as a whole. I feel that after uncovering the histo ...more
Emma Hugo
Nov 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Rabbits by John Marsden and Shaun Tan is a picture book about the colonisation of Australia by England. It depicts how the English or the rabbits travelled overseas and invaded Australia. The book portrays the destructive impact of the colonisation on the indigenous people. Not having an in depth understanding of this particular event meant that I initially read it and interpreted ithe story general to humanity and immigration as a whole. I feel that understanding the actual context brings f ...more
Agnieszka Cłapka
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
The book is not aimed at "typical" children audience, as it is an allegory of both colonization of new territories, and of destruction of the Earth made by the mankind and the technological progress. The rabbits play the role of humans, and their history of invasion is closely connected with the history of Australia, where Shaun Tan comes from, which is another layer of the allegory. The end of the story is threatening, as if we've arriveed at a wall: is there any hope? Who is going to save us? ...more
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There is more than one author with this name in the database, see f.e. John Marsden

His first book, So Much To Tell You, was published in 1987. This was followed by Take My Word For It, a half-sequel written from the point of view of another character. His landmark Tomorrow series is recognized as the most popular book series for young adults ever written in Australia. The first book of this series
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