"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)
'The 1998 picture book The Rabbits, written by John Marsden and illustrated by Shaun Tan, is an allegory of the colonisation of Australia. The book has been controversial for a number of reasons. While some have read it as too politically correct, others have argued that the portrayal of the Aboriginals is patronising and silencing, and still others have been confounded by its categorisation as children's literature. For the author of this article, the overwhelming message of the book is the destruction of the landscape due to colonialism. In the reading of The Rabbits in this article, the author attempts to bring together the postcolonial and the posthuman ‘contact zone’ perspectives, as theorised by Mary Louise Pratt and Donna Haraway respectively. The author analyses the textual pages of The Rabbits as representative of a troubled contact zone where text and image exist in tension with each other such that two separate but interwoven strands ultimately come together to deliver a poignant message. The author further argues that the book can be read as a deeply transformative text, mainly because of Tan's illustrations which subtly counter Marsden's sharply polarised representation of the coloniser and the colonised.' (Source: Publisher's blurb)
'This article proposes a rethinking of biological invasion in contemporary South African and Australian literature. It argues that the literary representation of pest proliferation can offer a privileged insight into the intersection between the legacy of settler colonialism and current ecological concerns. Indeed, the question of invasive species can be connected to both unreconciled histories of colonial expansion and pressing biodiversity and conservation issues. This essay adopts Deleuze and Guattari's concept of deterritorialisation in order to explore the description of invasive species in Henrietta Rose-Innes's Nineveh and The Rabbits, a visual narrative by John Mardsen and Shaun Tan. A reading inspired by the anti-metaphorical value of the concept of deterritorialisation overcomes an anthropocentric view that would reduce animals to mere metaphorical stand-ins for humans. The intimate link between nature and culture posited by Deleuze and Guattari's generalised ecology is conceptualised as a shifting interface between postcolonial and ecocritical agendas in the reading of postcolonial literature from South Africa and Australia.'