Looking for fun new books to share with your child? Look no further!

The Rabbits

December 31, 1998

The Rabbits

By John Marsden and Shaun Tan, Lothian Children’s Books, 1998.

Cover of a book showing a large ship and some British soldiers on the shore - stylised

‘A rich and haunting allegory for all ages, all cultures.’

This book provides a very different perspective on the effect of humans on the environment through a clever metaphorical take on invasion. The Rabbits offers the true story of Australia’s dark history, and uses animals to describe the story. The analogy of rabbits invading the land and causing problems for the original inhabitants softens the reality of the way the situation really was.

The Rabbits offers a visual feast of an intriguing, mystical and futuristic land. It is truly an illustrative masterpiece; you’ll feel like you’re in a Daliesque gallery.

My 12-year-old niece wasn’t so keen on the illustrations, because she thought they weren’t easy to understand as they imitate life, but are not realistic, so to speak. She thinks it’s maybe more suitable for an older child. She wasn’t aware of the underlying message and needed it explained to her. The Rabbits could provide an opportunity for parents to explain Australia’s dark history to their children in a way that they can understand.


  • Picture Book of the Year, Children’s Book Council of Australia, 1999.
  • Aurealis Conveners’ Award for Excellence, 1999.
  • Spectrum Gold Award for Book Illustration, 1999.

Wrap Up

The Rabbits

  • 9/10
  • 9/10
  • 8.5/10
    Educational content
  • 0.1/10
  • 7/10


  • Richly illustrated, and very stylised.
  • Strong message to teach children about historical matters.
  • Won Picture Book of the Year 1999, among other awards.
  • Promotes cultural awareness.
  • Elicits a sense of caring for the natural order of things.


  • Maybe not an uplifting bedtime story, but is certainly thought provoking.
  • Aimed at 5 to 7 year olds, but you might like to check the suitability first.

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