YA‘A delightful collection of 24 tales for readers who enjoyed the fantastical warren of Watership Down popularized so many years ago, or who just want an uplifting and heartwarming animal story. A glossary lists rabbit words found throughout the tales, but readers can readily understand these terms in context. The collection is divided into three parts: traditional tales that help to explain how things came to be in the rabbit world; some of the adventures encountered by El-aharairah (rabbit folk hero) and his comrades on their return trip home after defeating the Black Rabbit of Inle; and a continuation of the story of Watership Down and its many inhabitants. Familiar characters reappear: Hazel, Bigwig, Dandelion, Bluebell, and Campion. Events from the earlier novel are referred to‘the encounter with General Woundwort, the destruction of Efrafa, and the establishment of Watership Down‘but knowledge of them is not necessary to appreciate this book. Substitute human experiences for the rabbits' and the simple action becomes the stuff of fable, and an allegory of humankind. While younger children will enjoy the surface tales, more mature readers will understand the underlying themes.‘Dottie Kraft, formerly at Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
As readers of Watership Down (1974) will recall, Adams reached classic heights of inspired storytelling in that fable of the animal kingdom, performing a finely calibrated juggling act between the real and the imagined. These 19 interrelated tales continue the adventures of the rabbits met in the earlier book, after their defeat of General Woundwart and the Efrafans. The deeds of the hero El-ahrairah are celebrated in the seven stories of Part One (of three). El-ahrairah's stalwart companion Rabscuttle joins him for four tales in Part Two, while the remaining stories, which are devoted to Hazel and his rabbits, have the continuity of a novel. Mystical, occasionally allegorical, full of whimsy, rich in vivid descriptions of the rabbits' society and of the natural world, the tales are often suspenseful, frequently amusing and invariably clever. The rabbits exhibit a wide range of behavior, showing themselves to be manipulative, defiant, ignorant and self-satisfied, along with noble, loving and brave. There is a brief summation of what happened in the initial passages of the first tale, but from there on, the book stands on its own. El-ahrairah's heroic exploits include his perilous journey to obtain a sense of smell for all rabbits and his search for eternal youth, while his adventures with Rabscuttle find them both leading another group of rabbits across a dangerous marsh as they attempt to evade an army of rapacious, savage rats. Eventually, a new warren is founded and various other ones reconfigure and recombine. The collection comes to a satisfying close by ending, as it began, with an account of the bold deeds of another heroic rabbit, formerly an enemy, now a valued member of the new warren. Illustrations not seen by PW. 200,000 first printing. (Nov.)
Rabbits 1, General Woundwort 0; what happened after Watership Down.