"The Rabbits is partly allegorical fable about colonisation, told from the viewpoint of the colonised."
|Scooped by Brigitte McFadden|
‘The Rabbits’ is a picture book written by John Marsden and Illustrated by Shaun Tan. It follows the story of rabbits who arrive onto land, which is at first in a friendly encounter for the native animals, but soon becomes a story of colonisation and environmental destruction, brought on by the rabbits.
Exploring the themes of colonisation and the anxiety that surrounds such an act can be a difficult one to convey to children, and this book is by no means a happy story. But pictorial illustrations are an effective way of teaching young students complex concepts (Carney & Levin, 2002), and can be used to get children thinking about issues surrounding colonisation, before they even study a real world example. I would suggest using ‘The Rabbits’ as an opening to a discussion about British colonisation, as the imaginary, fable like story, may be easier for them to process at first.
An accompanying exercise to reading the book together, might be a worksheet or all-in discussion about how each of the creatures felt about what was happening, and how they may have felt in the same position. Getting the students to process the emotions felt by the text’s characters may help them to place the emotions felt by Indigenous peoples, when later on, introducing them to real-life examples of colonisation.
Carney, R. N., & Levin, J. R. (2002). Pictorial Illustrations Still Improve Students' Learning From Text. Educational Psychology Review, 5-26.