"The rabbits came many grandparents ago.
They build houses, made roads, had children.
They cut down trees.
A whole continent of rabbits..." (back cover)
An allegorical story using rabbits, an introduced species, to represent the arrival of Europeans in Australia and the subsequent widespread environmental destruction.
'John Marsden and Shaun Tan's haunting picture book tells a story we all know: a story of colonisation, civilisation and progress — a story about displacement, destruction and culture clash. And in that landscape, it tells a story of hope taking root.
'It's a story for young people, it's a story for old people, it's a story for all of us.
'Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company have assembled some of Australia's foremost creative talents to collaborate on a new opera for children and families.
'Gabriela Tylesova's kooky sets and costumes realise Tan's pictures in all of their mystical wonder, while Lally Katz has turned Marsden's spare poetry into an enchanting libretto. To write the score, Kate Miller Heidke: the butterfly-voiced, classically-trained indie-pop singer who is as at home on the charts as she is performing at the Met. As well as composing The Rabbits, Kate will perform in this production.' (Production summary)
Unit Suitable For AC: Year 8 (NSW Stage 4)
Duration Four to five weeks
Aboriginal history and culture, assimilation, colonisation, conflict and violence, connection to place, displacement, dispossession of land and culture, identity, Indigenous culture, invasion and occupation of Australia, natural world/environmentalism, place, Stolen Generations, the environment, the future, violence
Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding, Information and communication technology, Intercultural understanding, Literacy, Personal and social
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Sustainability
'According to the NSW K–10 English Syllabus, all students should engage with ‘texts that give insight into Aboriginal experiences in Australia’. Along with the inclusion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cross Curriculum Priority, this suggests that texts in English should develop deep understanding of Aboriginal cultures, experiences and perspectives. This project uses critical discourse analysis followed by content analysis, adapted from Lowe and Yunkaporta’s (2013) Cultural Analysis Matrix, to analyse representations of Aboriginal experiences and perspectives in six commonly used classroom texts to ascertain the nature and depth of the Aboriginal voices, experiences and perspectives within each text. This paper argues that texts which include Aboriginal characters and experiences through non-Aboriginal perspectives remain at risk of tokenism and/or shallow inclusion. However, texts which embody and value Aboriginal ways of knowing, doing and being demonstrate a capacity for more nuanced and genuine insights into Aboriginal experiences in Australia.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
'The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) administers the oldest national prize for children’s literature in Australia. Each year, the CBCA confers “Book of the Year” awards to literature for young people in five categories: Older Readers, Younger Readers, Early Childhood, Picture Books and Information Books. In recent years the Picture Book category has emerged as a highly visible space within which the CBCA can contest discourses of cultural marginalization which construct Australian (‘colonial’) literature as inferior or adjunct to the major Anglophone literary traditions, and children’s literature as lesser than its adult counterpart. The CBCA has moved from asserting its authority by withholding judgment in the award’s early years towards asserting expertise via overtly politicized selections in the twenty-first century. Reading across the CBCA’s selections of picture books allows for insights into wider trends in Australian children’s literature and culture, and suggests a conscious engagement with social as well as literary values on the part of the CBCA in the twenty-first century.'