“Half the fun of nearly everything is thinking about it beforehand or afterward.” —Howard Garis
Howard Garis created Uncle Wiggily, a gentlemanly old rabbit who dressed up in a tuxedo and a silk top hat and walked with a cane, modeling kindness and helpfulness to all the creatures in the forest. Garis published his first Uncle Wiggily story in 1910, and it was so popular that he ended up writing an Uncle Wiggily story six days a week for over three decades. By the time he retired, he had written more than 10,000 stories about the gentlemanly old uncle.
Richard Adams loved making up stories for his two young daughters. Once, when the family was preparing for a long trip, one girl asked him to make up one long story that would last the entire trip. Richard began to spin a tale about rabbits escaping their underground maze of nests and tunnels. The story lasted the whole trip, and, when it was done, Adams’ daughter Juliet said, “Write it down, daddy. It’s too good to waste.” It took him nearly two years to write it down. It was rejected by publishers for being too grown-up for kids and too simple for adults. A small publisher finally accepted it, and it got some positive reviews. Watership Down (1972) sold more than a million copies.
Why this fascination with rabbits, including B’rer Rabbit, Peter Cottontail, Bugs Bunny and the velveteen rabbit? Children find bunnies cute, cuddly, clever and funny. Writers obviously know that bunnies lend themselves to unforgettable stories that afford children new tales to anticipate and old tales to remember.
We grown-ups, like the children, thrive on pleasant experiences in the past and in the future. The old ones we call precious memories. The ones to come we call whispering hope.