Teachers’ Lounge: More Rabbit Tales

Two weeks ago we looked at ways to tweak a narrative in order to provoke a particular response in the reader.  (Actually it wasn’t tweaking so much as taking the narrative by the ears and wrestling it to the ground.)  If you were here in the Teachers’ Lounge you might recall me wondering aloud how the first few paragraphs of The Tale of Peter Rabbit would sound if Beatrix Potter were writing an action-packed adventure tale . . . or a cautionary tale . . . or a humorous romp.Battle-Bunny

(I would try a combat Rabbit, but Jon Schieszka and Mac Barnett beat me to it: )

So anyway, here’s what I came up with.

The call of ADVENTURE:

Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits.  Their names: Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter.  Peter marched to the beat of his own drum.  But you’ll see that.

They lived all crammed up together with their Mother in a sandbank, in a house that made Peter feel like he was suffocating.  The root of a very big fir tree bumped his noggin every morning when he jumped out of bed.

“Now, my dears,” said old Mrs. Rabbit one brisk and sunny morning, “you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don’t go into Mr. McGregor’s garden – your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.”  She glared at Peter when she said this, but her words sounded more like a challenge to him.

“Now run along, and don’t get into mischief. I am going out.”

Peter’s ears tingled–freedom!

The weight of a MORAL:

Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were: Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter.  Please pay special attention to Peter.

They lived with their widowed Mother in a fine home that their father had dug out of a sandbank, safely situated underneath the root of a very big fir tree.

One morning Mrs. Rabbit noticed there was nothing for breakfast–who had nibbled away the parsley buns?  She had an idea, but was loath to accuse without proof.  So it was off to the market: “Now, my dears,” she said briskly, “you may go into the fields or down the lane while I’m gone, but don’t go into Mr. McGregor’s garden – Remember what happened to your poor Father?”  Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail nodded solemnly, but Peter snickered behind his paw.  Mrs. Rabbit sighed.  What was this black sheep of the family coming to?

“Now run along, and don’t get into mischief. I am going out.”

Peter’s ears twitched: freedom!

Reaching (maybe too far) for LAUGHS:

Once upon a time—or maybe it was just yesterday; I’m fuzzy on the details–there were four little Rabbits, and their names were: Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter.  (Somebody might have been hitting the blackberry wine a little too hard when they were handing out the names.)

They lived with their poor-but-honest Mother in a sandbank, underneath the root of a poor-but-honest—and very big–fir tree.

“Now, my dears,” said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, as she absent-mindedly tied a sausage on top of her head, “you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don’t go into Mr. McGregor’s garden – your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.”

“Mom,” remarked Peter, “did you know you had a sausage tied on top of your head?”

Mrs. Rabbit started, darting a paw to the incongruous object.  “Goodness me!  Why didn’t you say so?”

“I just did,” sighed Peter. 

“Never mind, then,” she sniffed.  “Now run along, and don’t get into mischief. I am going out.”

Other genres may come to mind: romance? spy thriller? combat drama?  Many possibilities, and many more words to work with.

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