A Classic Picture Book with Beautiful Illustrations (Classic Remarks)

Classic Remarks


Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation.


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You can find more information and the list of weekly prompts here.

(Readers who like past prompts but missed them have also answered them on their blog later and linked back to us at Pages Unbound, so feel free to do that, too!)


Tell us about a classic picture book you love for the illustrations.

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The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, Illustrated by Cyndy Szekeres

I have never actually liked the story of Peter Rabbit. At best, it’s too obviously didactic with its lessons about listening to your mother and being a good little bunny (child), and at worst it’s pretty dark. Mrs. Rabbit flat out says that Mr. Rabbit “had an accident” in Mr. McGregor’s garden and “he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor!” This was nearly traumatizing to me as a young reader, but she throws it out so casually. Oh, don’t go into the garden next door–you might be murdered and eaten! I simply was not a big fan as a child, and rereading the story recently hasn’t suddenly made me think it’s the epitome of children’s literature.

However, my family had this Little Golden Book edition of the story when I was growing up, and the illustrations are adorable! I believe I read the book multiple times simply because the pictures are so cute, while also detailed and rather evocative. Just look at that plump fluffy bunny on the cover, wearing his stylish coat and shoes!

I loved looking at the pictures, and I still think they’re astounding. I still want to just pick up all the bunnies and hug them, and I still love looking at all the details in the background, like the mother mouse with her baby mice in a cradle or all the little furnishings in Peter’s home. I also love the expressions on Peter’s face during his adventures, the single tear on his face when he gets caught in a net in Mr. McGregor’s garden and his anguish when he’s lost and can’t find his way home. The story is often sad and dark, but the illustrator really works with that! You start to feel for Peter, even when he brought all his troubles on himself.

Beatrix Potter I can take or leave as an author in general, but I really do love Cyndy Szekeres’s illustrations for The Tale of Peter Rabbit!


11 thoughts on “A Classic Picture Book with Beautiful Illustrations (Classic Remarks)

  1. Books and Shadows says:

    Ahhhh yes! Peter Rabbit! The illustrations were so soothing for some reason.

    I used to love it when my teacher would read them to us before nap time. She had a voice like silk and her voice mixed with those soft pastels and wispy lines in the illustrations just put my little tail to sleep. My little Peter Cottontail that is…

    But yes, the story was insane. This McGregor guy was constantly trying to kill them for simply having a snack. I honestly didn’t understand why this guy would want to kill a bunny for simply coming into his garden. My family had a huge garden and we would get little creatures nibbling about all the time, especially rabbits, but we would never try to harm them. Let alone turn them into pie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I was just thinking that I understand his annoyance *slightly* more as an adult trying to grow vegetables, but, yeah, I wouldn’t try to catch and kill a bunny for munching on my tomato plants! I have a few around, and I think they’re cute! (And actually the deer are the ones destroying my poor plants.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Books and Shadows says:

        The deer are the night creepers tearing into your gardens doing the real damage lol.

        And yeah… I can see the annoyance if there was an abundance of woodland creatures completely eating up your entire garden, but a couple of wittle wabbits? Nehh

        Liked by 1 person

  2. La La in the Library says:

    I love the Beatrix Potter books, ha ha. My mother used to sit me on the floor in the Children’s room in the public library when I was three and four, with a pile of books, and then go downstairs to the main library. Most of my memories are of the miniature Beatrix Potter books and Winnie-the-Pooh books. I collect the small Beatrix Potter books with original illustrations. My Children’s Lit professor said many older classic children’s stories were dark because it discouraged children from wandering away from home by scaring them. I don’t think they are much different from more current stories. My son loved books about anthropomorphized mice, and those stories usually had at least one character who met an untimely death by cat or mousetrap after being warned of the dangers. 🐀 He also had a doll house with toy mice for a family. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      My former library had a collection of the miniature ones on their own tiny shelf. It was so cute!

      I think I was just a bit of a sensitive child. I don’t think I’d like reading about poor mice dying either! The mouse doll house sounds fun though!


  3. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

    I love the Little Golden Books! My favorite version of the Beatrix Potter stories will always be the ones with Potter’s own illustrations. There’s something about them I always found so comforting. I am with you about how frightening Peter Rabbit can be to young children. I always loved The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse and The Tailor of Gloucester. Both are a bit lighter — though all of Potter’s stories are bit dark.

    Better late than never! My own Classic Remarks post for this theme: http://deathbytsundoku.com/classic-remarks-the-grey-lady-and-the-strawberry-snatcher/

    Liked by 1 person

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