The Enid Blyton Society
The Very Clever Rabbit
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Book Details...

First edition: 1947
Publisher: Brockhampton Press
Illustrator: Eileen A. Soper
Category: Brockhampton Bedtime Series
Genre: Fantasy
Type: Short Story Series Books

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Review by Terry Gustafson

This book came out in 1947 and was illustrated by the ever popular Eileen Soper.

Mr. and Mrs. Rabbit live comfortably with their seven little ones. The bunnies' names are Frisky, Loppy, Bobtail, Downy, Paddy-Paws, Furry and as Dopey was to the seven dwarfs, there is one who stands a little apart from the mob and he's called Tiny. When the bunnies have grown a little the family moves to Rabbit City which is a big warren where many families live.

Tiny wants to be called Montague because he thinks Tiny doesn't suit him — after all he is a clever bunny even if he's the only one who thinks that. He won't answer to Tiny so his mother smacks him hard and he's quite furious about that and decides to run away and find a clever family with whom to live, a group that will appreciate him — and call him Montague no doubt. One moonlit night he sneaks away and the first animal he meets is a hare who suggests that the little rabbit might like to live with a family of foxes because they are quite intelligent animals. Montague (might as well call him that) does so and he is invited to stay with the foxes in their den and to look after their cubs when the parents are out hunting. The cubs get very rough and hard to control and when he has been nipped a few times the little rabbit thinks he had better vamoose and find a more acceptable home.

He wanders around and meets an owl called Screech. Montague thinks it might be nice to live in an owl's home so he is taken to a tree where there is a hole and inside is a nest. Mother owl has several eggs she is hatching and Montague helps out by sitting on the eggs so that she can have a rest. The eggs hatch and the baby owls are not slow to show that they are fierce little critters. After he has been nipped a few times the rabbit thinks he'd better get out fast and once again he is on the hunt for a nice home with a clever family.

The next animal he meets is a stoat. Most people will entertain a degree of apprehension when the word stoat is mixed with the word rabbit. He is invited to live with the stoat family in the hole where Mrs. Stoat has five stoatlings, or kits, or whatever they're called. When passing the time of day with these potential killers the little rabbit learns from their general conversation that the family is waiting for him to fatten up. When they mention the fact that they like to eat fat rabbits poor Montague can't get out quickly enough — and that's exactly the case because he has fattened up a little whilst living down in the hole where he hasn't been able to exercise all that much. He struggles to squeeze himself out of the entrance hole but he can't so his only hope is to wait a while and hope to slim down a bit. When mealtimes come he eats not a morsel but manages to convince the stoat family that he's putting his supper away as per usual. How he managed to survive before today is not dwelt upon but knowing what stoats eat it's a wonder he became fat at all! He eventually slims down and is able to make his escape.

His next abode is in the kennel of Rolf who is a dog, but the signs are up that Rolf might have him for breakfast so yet again Montague scampers off and his final encounter is with two people whom he considers to be kind and clever — a man and a little girl. He follows them to their cottage where the girl adopts him as her own little pet. The Grim Reaper is obviously stalking this rabbit because he hears that his new-found friends are thinking of having rabbit-pie for dinner so, betrayed once again, and taking all things into consideration, Montague realizes that his original home is really where his heart is so he flees back to the family burrow and joins his siblings. He has learnt that it's nicer to be stupid little Tiny than clever Montague.
There is Wizard of Oz philosophy in this tale —

Glinda: "What did you learn, Dorothy?"

Dorothy: "I learnt that if I ever go looking for my heart's desire I won't look any further than my own back yard because if it isn't there, then I was never without it in the first place!"