The Velveteen Principles: A Guide to Becoming Real, Hidden Wisdom from a Children’s Classic unpacks the children’s classic in a poignant and relevant way. In this book, Toni Raiten-D’Antonio pulls lessons from the The Velveteen Rabbit and applies them to every day living.
When I was younger I truly despised this story as being horribly depressing. Here we have a helpless, lovable little stuffed rabbit who, through no fault of his own, has to be destroyed because he was loved too much. This is not the sort of book a young child would natural latch on to. The cartoon version of it made me cry and I avoided hearing the story whenever it was offered. However, years later I was preparing a little devotional and I came across a passage from the story that is the same one Raiten-D’Antonio opens her book with. To me, this passage has a great deal of depth and meaning and the story I once avoided I now appreciate. Take a moment and read this passage from the story. Here we find the toy Velveteen Rabbit questioning the old Skin Horse in the boy’s nursery about what it means to be real.
What is REAL asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” Said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?”
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It’ doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But those things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
In her book, The Velveteen Principles, Raiten-D’Antonio shares what the differences are between being superficial and real. She points out all the ways in which we seem to delight in living surface level and contrast that with honesty, possibility, and reality. Being real, she says, involves honesty, and perhaps worse yet, emotion. (I know I like to avoid a show of emotion whenever possible. It’s hard to process things in a public setting especially but sometimes that’s what being Real calls for – raw visibility.)
This is a handy little book and Raiten-D’Antonio has some very good points to make. She uses this classic children’s story very well in describing the benefits of being real. Yes, that may not mean looking perfect and having everything in life run like clockwork. But being real, while she doesn’t promise love and happiness, certainly does help promote both. I rather enjoyed this little book and found it to be a quick read. While I never would have dreamed of saying so, if you are looking for some inspiration, especially after a day when you feel like your hair is falling out and your eyes are popping off, pick up The Velveteen Rabbit and the companion title The Velveteen Principles: A Guide to Becoming Real, Hidden Wisdom from a Children’s Classic. Both are quite enlightening.
Cheers to my fellow “shabby-ish” stuffed animals who are real – and really loved!
Carrie comes by her book obsession honestly, having descended from a long line of bibliophiles. She blogs about books regularly at Reading to Know.