YOUNG BOY: But there are more things I want to know. I want to know about the rabbit with the umbrella.GEORGE PLIMPTON DID LITTLE to appease that young boy in the epilogue to his children's novel The Rabbit's Umbrella (1955). (See my previous post here.) There were suggestions and insinuations, but really at best what the reader got was a wink. "Life is full of mysteries, and it's nice to have a mystery that is a rabbit with an umbrella."
But in 1989, future Oregon poet laureate Lawson Inada hoped to grant children access to Plimpton's umbrellaed rabbit community. Lawson had co-founded Kids Matter in 1986 with David Zaslow, a publishing and recording company that primarily offered modernized versions of traditional Mother Goose rhymes and fairy tales.
He hoped to add The Rabbit's Umbrella to the Kids Matter list, and adapted a portion of Plimpton's epilogue into a picture book script intended for younger readers.
"I want you to know about rabbits with umbrellas, let me tell you about them."At the time, Inada taught creative writing at Southern Oregon University. He approached one of his students, Nancy Bright, who was also an artist and asked her to illustrate the book, which she did.
"And where are these rabbits to be found?"
"Skipping about behind closed doors...And hopping through the magical dreams of tabby cats."It's not clear why the book reached the completed art stage, but was never published. And it's not clear to what extent George Plimpton was involved with the project. Perhaps when he was informed of it, he disapproved. In any case, even though the book is listed in some library records, The Rabbit's Umbrella by George Plimpton, adapted by Lawson Inada with illustrations by Nancy Bright never saw print. But...
"If you want to know about squirrels with small pianos...and mice skating on frozen lakes...I'll tell you about them..."
Thank you to Nancy Bright, for dusting off this beautiful artwork and giving me the opportunity to at last let it be seen. For more of Ms. Bright's art for The Rabbit's Umbrella, see my Flickr set here. And for more bunnies and other art besides, visit her website Bright Creations Art.
"Good night, young child, good night."
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