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PeterRabbit

Peter slips under the gate to Mr. McGregor's garden. Original illustration by Beatrix Potter.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit is a classic children's book by the English author and illustrator Beatrix Potter. The story was originally written in 1893 as an illustrated letter to entertain a sick boy named Noel Moore, the son of Potter's former governess. Potter later expanded the story and, after failing to find a publisher, self-published the book on December 16, 1901. The private edition featured a colored front piece and 41 black-and-white illustrations. The first commercial edition with new color illustrations was published in October 1902.

In the story, a naughty little rabbit named Peter[1] ignores his mother's warning and sneaks into Mr. McGregor's garden. After feasting on vegetables, Peter is spotted by Mr. McGregor and chased all around the garden.

A sequel to the story, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny,[2] was published in 1904. Peter also appears in the 1912 book The Tale of Mr. Tod, is mentioned briefly in The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle (1905) and The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies (1909). An unnamed adult male rabbit in a blue coat, who is probably Peter, appears in The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots (written in 1914 but not published until 2016). Peter Rabbit appears in illustrations only in The Tale of Ginger and Pickles (1909).

The Tale of Peter Rabbit is very popular throughout the world. The book has been translated into many languages, including Egyptian hieroglyphs (by the British Museum). The story has been adapted for film, television and radio.

Plot

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Original illustration of Peter feasting on Mr. McGregor's vegetables.

Four little rabbits named Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter live with their mother under the root of a big fir tree. One morning as she is leaving to go shopping, Mrs. Rabbit warns her children not to go into Mr. McGregor's garden. She tells them that their father was caught there and put into a pie. Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail go down the lane to gather blackberries. But Peter disobeys his mother's orders and goes straight to Mr. McGregor's garden. He squeezes himself under the gate and feasts on Mr. McGregor's vegetables. He gets a stomach ache from eating too much. As he is looking for some parsley to settle his stomach, he runs into Mr. McGregor.

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The brass buttons on Peter's jacket get caught in the gooseberry net. Original illustration by Beatrix Potter.

Mr. McGregor yells out "Stop thief!" and starts chasing Peter. Peter is terribly frightened and cannot remember which way the gate is. He runs all around the garden, losing his shoes in the process. Then the buttons on his jacket get caught on the gooseberry net. He only just manages to wriggle out of the jacket and get away before Mr. McGregor can trap him. Peter runs into the tool shed and hides in the watering can. Unfortunately, the can is filled with water. Peter sneezes. Mr. McGregor hears the sneeze and goes after Peter. Peter jumps out of a window which is too small for Mr. McGregor to go through. Mr. McGregor decides to give up and go back to work.

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Mrs. Rabbit prepares chamomile tea for Peter. Original illustration by Beatrix Potter.

Peter is lost, frightened, tired, and wet. He asks a mouse for directions, but she cannot talk because she is carrying a large pea in her mouth. Peter begins to cry. He wanders around and comes to a pond. There is a white cat sitting very still and watching some goldfish. Peter decides not to disturb her because he has heard about cats from his cousin Benjamin. He goes back to the tool shed. He hears the noise of a hoe and climbs on top of a wheelbarrow to take a peek. He sees Mr. McGregor hoeing onions. Then he sees the gate on the other side of the garden past Mr. McGregor. Peter runs as fast as he can and, before Mr. McGregor can catch up with him, slips under the gate. Mr. McGregor uses Peter's jacket and shoes to dress a scarecrow.

Peter keeps running all the way to his house and flops down exhausted. His mother wonders what happened to his clothes. Peter does not feel well at all that evening. Mrs. Rabbit puts him to bed and gives him a dose of chamomile tea. His sisters, however, have a really nice supper of bread, milk, and blackberries.

Adaptations

A segment based on The Tale of Peter Rabbit appears in the 1971 Royal Ballet film Tales of Beatrix Potter.[3]

The Tale of Peter Rabbit was adapted as an animated musical for the HBO Storybook Musical series. It first aired in the United States on June 11, 1991. The musical features Carol Burnett as the narrator and the voice of Mrs. Rabbit and the white cat.

The first episode of the BBC television series The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends is an adaptation of The Tale of Peter Rabbit and The Tale of Benjamin Bunny. The episode first aired in the United Kingdom on May 13, 1992. Both the story and the animation are quite faithful to the original books.

A computer generated animation children's TV series called Peter Rabbit was co-produced by production companies from the United Kingdom, the United States, Ireland and Canada. The first episode originally aired on Nick Jr. in the United States on December 14, 2012 and on BBC One in the United Kingdom on December 25, 2012. The series ran until 2016 with a total of two seasons and 106 episodes.

A fifteen-minute British radio play based on The Tale of Peter Rabbit first aired on BBC Radio 4 on December 24, 2013 as pat of the mini-series The Tales of Beatrix Potter.[4]

Peter Rabbit, a British-Australian-American film that combines live-action and computer generated animation, was released in the United States on February 9, 2018. Characters from The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher, The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, The Tale of Mr. Tod, The Tale of Pigling Bland and The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse also appear in the film. Its title character is voiced by the British-born actor, comedian and talk show host James Corden. The movie has received mixed reviews, a common criticism of it being that it deviates too greatly from Beatrix Potter's original book.

Footnotes

  1. Beatrix Potter named Peter Rabbit after her pet rabbit Peter Piper.
  2. Beatrix Potter also had a rabbit named Benjamin.
  3. Other segments in the 1971 film Tales of Beatrix Potter are based on The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, The Tale of Two Bad Mice, The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse, The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher and The Tale of Pigling Bland.
  4. Other episodes of the BBC radio mini-series The Tales of Beatrix Potter are based on The Tale of Pigling Bland, The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, The Tale of Mr. Tod and The Tale of Ginger and Pickles.

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