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The Rabbits by John Marsden & Shaun Tan

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Jon Vank

on 8 February 2011

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Transcript of The Rabbits by John Marsden & Shaun Tan

The Rabbits By John Marsden... ...and Shaun Tan The Rabbits is a picture book centered on the theme of colonialization. The story is told from the perspective of those being colonized, presumably Australian Aboriginals, illustrated as brown lemurs. The British colonizers are illustrated
as rabbits. The storyline follows the typical historical
progression of colonization, moving from
friendship, to a sense of curiosity until the
inevitable violence and all-out conquering
takes place. In true Shaun Tan form, the illustrations are as bizzare as they are meaningful. Text is often positioned in an
atypical manner so as to emphasize
its Meaning. The surreal images serve to convey the state of perplexity that the aboriginals are in. The Rabbits challenges the preconceived notions that I had about picture books. My initial belief that picture books were for children ended while reading The Rabbits when the colonizers slaughtered the natives and stole their land. The theme and illustrations would suit middle school readers very well. The reality is young adolescents, boys in particular, are drawn in by violence. I think that The Rabbits effectively portrays conflict. This would pull in middle school readers while hopefully educating them about the hazards of war. It is these images that, while confusing initially, will cause young adult readers to think at a deeper level than they would with more common illustrations. Marsden is a native of Austrailia, a former British colony, and primarily writes books directed towards young adults. One of his most commonly addressed themes is violence in society. This is quite prevelant in The Rabbits. He is one of the most decorated young adult authors, having won every major writing award in Australia for young people’s fiction. He was also nominated for the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Shaun Tan is a fellow Australian, famous for his unique illustrations. Also critically acclaimed, Tan uses his original artwork to compliment Marsden's social stances strong The Rabbits is sure to engage young adult readers and challenge them to think critically about colonialism, an important theme even today.
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