Great Illustrated Books

Watership Down

By Richard Adams

Scribner, 2005
Pages : 496
Suggested Ages: 9 and Up
ISBN: 9780743277709


Fiver has a vision that the warren he and the other rabbits live in will soon be covered in blood. A small group of rabbits, Bigwig, Blackberry, Holly, Pipkin, and more, led by Fiver’s brother, Hazel, heed Fiver’s warnings and they set out to find a new warren. The group learns later when a few survivors catch up with them that most of the rabbits they left behind were destroyed, their land being bulldozed over by humans. The growing group seeks haven along the journey at a curious warren of fat, beautiful bunnies. Two envoys check out the new place and enjoy comfortable grazing (or, as they call it, "evening silflay") and bunches of beautiful, healthy female does. Living at the foreign dwelling would come at a price, though, as they soon realize the warren of Efrafra is a strict and deadly police state. Hazel’s band stays close by, and heads a dangerous mission to woo some of the does from the border-controlled neighbor warren to better populate their own.

Adams plays with tremendous freedom in creating these characters, which has madeWatership Down such a cult classic since its release in 1972. Bunnies talk, work and play like humans, but are also very sensitive to each others’ grazing needs or occasional slips into paralyzed states of fear (it’s all part of being a rabbit). Readers who can’t get enough of C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien will love the sweet friendships between these animals and root for their heroes in the pitiless battle scenes. A mythical current runs alongside this journey, as the rabbits cry out to a god they call Frith, or the Black Rabbit of Inlé haunts their dreams. Kids and adults alike are swept up by the long, demanding journey of these hardworking rabbits, and only when they take their heads out of the book will they realize how relatively short the journey would be by human foot, or how easily the dramatic rabbits could be wiped out by human methods, such as a bulldozer.

Reviewed by : CH.


If you love this book, then try:

Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. Faber and Faber, 1954.

Jacques, Brian. Redwall. Philomel, 1987. (And others in the Redwall series.)

Lasky, Kathryn. The Capture. Scholastic, 2003. (And others in the Guardians of Ga��Hoole series.)

Lewis, C.S. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. HarperCollins, 1994, c1950. (And others in the Chronicles of Narnia series.)

O'Brien, Robert C. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. Atheneum, 1971.

Oppel, Kenneth. Silverwing. Simon & Schuster, 1997.

Orwell, George. Animal Farm. Harcourt, 1990, c1945.

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit, or There and Back Again. Houghton Mifflin, 2001, c1937.

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings (50th Anniversary One Volume Edition). Mariner, 2005.

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Critics have said

Quite marvelous...A powerful new vision of the great chain of being.
New York Times Book Review

Spellbinding...Marvelous...A taut tale of suspense, hot pursuit, and derring-do.
Chicago Tribune