The Whispering Rabbit
by Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrated by Annie Won
A Little Golden Book
First Copyright of the Whispering Rabbit – 1948
Renewed by Penguin Random House – 1975
The Annie Won Version of the Book – 2017
Today, I am sharing a few tidbits about Margaret Wise Brown’s picture book The Whispering Rabbit. I am discovering that Margaret Wise Brown wrote a host of picture books other than the immortal Goodnight Moon, and I personally like some of those other books more than I like the old standby.
Goodnight Moon was first published on September 3, 1947
The Whispering Rabbit was first published in 1948.
Penguin Random House published The Whispering Rabbit again in 1975, and Penguin Random House published The Whispering Rabbit yet again in 2017. In 2017, the manuscript was illustrated by Annie Won, and it was published then as a Little Golden Book.
When I began writing my post about The Whispering Rabbit, I discovered several notable things.
- Before today, I didn’t realize that Little Golden Books is one of the imprints of Penguin Random House.
Imagine my surprise after I searched for images of The Whispering Rabbit, and my search took me to the same gigantic virtual bookcase where my own The Donkey’s Song is also shelved:
Here in the Ozarks, you might say that the whispering rabbit and the donkey who sings are kissing cousins.
2. Little Golden Books are formatted differently than most other picture books. Probably in an effort to keep the costs down and to make some picture books available to almost everyone, regardless of the size of their pocketbooks, some of the fluff is eliminated from Little Golden Books.
Unlike most of the other picture books sold today, the text of The Whispering Rabbit [as the Little Golden Book published in 2017] begins on the double spread of pages 2-3; While most other picture books today have 32+ pages, this book only has 24 pages. Yet, all of the text is there, and in the case of Won’s Whispering Rabbit, the text is illustrated beautifully.
The above is a closer look at page 3.
Page 1 of the book is both the title and the copyright page
The book’s conflict is stated on the first page of text:
“Once there was a sleepy little rabbit who began to yawn—
And he yawned and he yawned and he yawned and he yawned.
He opened his little rabbit mouth when he yawned till you could see his white front teeth and his little round pink mouth, and he yawned and he yawned until suddenly a bee flew into his mouth and he swallowed the bee:”
The conflict of the book is that the little rabbit has swallowed a bee, and the bee has fallen asleep in the little rabbit’s throat. The sleeping bee is resting on the rabbit’s voicebox, and the rabbit can only whisper now.
The rest of the book is the rabbit’s attempt to solve his problem–or to get the bee out of his throat. Along the way, the rabbit meets other forest animals who offer some advice to him. The groundhog says that only a very quiet sound will awaken the sleeping bee inside rabbit’s throat.
“So the little rabbit made the sound of a bug breathing
and a fly sneezing and grass rustling. . .
The most beautiful of the book’s writing is when Brown continues to recall all the quiet sounds that rabbit might make to awaken the bee.