Napoleon vs. the Bunnies
Napoleon vs. the Bunnies
He became emperor of France and put in place new laws.
Crowds cheered for him. Soldiers adored him.
This book isn’t about any of that.
Non. This book is about the time the great Napoleon battled with bunnies.
That’s right, fluffy little bunnies.
Interesting and unexpected episodes from the past help children to see the study of history as enlightening and enjoyable. Napoleon is recognised as a great general and leader of France. He was brave and composed under pressure. He would rather fight than flee. Yet, in one of history’s unexpected little-known incidents, there was a time when Napoleon “turned and fled”. Rather than his retreat being precipitated by an overpowering, heavily armed military force, Napoleon “hightailed it out of there” in the face of an “army of rabbits”. In the summer of 1807, Napoleon wished to celebrate his treaty with Russia with a rabbit hunt. His chief of staff arranged the procurement of hundreds of bunnies. The rabbits were released and—rather than flee for their lives—they immediately hopped towards Napoleon. Unbeknown to the general, the rabbits were pets. His chief of staff had purchased tame rabbits rather than wild ones. When they were released, they ran towards Napoleon expecting to be fed. One suspects that, in reality, Napoleon left in disgust and embarrassment rather than in fear. J. F. Fox’s retelling of events is fun and appealing. Napoleon vs. the Bunnies reveals that history is anything but boring. Finding about people and events of the past is enjoyable and, in this case, more than a little funny.
Napoleon vs. the Bunnies is based on a true story from 1807, but Fox’s retelling of events is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Anna Kwan’s artwork complements and augments the written text nicely. The bold and brightly coloured illustrations were drawn in ink and then coloured digitally in Photoshop.
Further information, a glossary, and a list of sources appear across two pages at the end of the book. Young readers will enjoy the manner of Fox’s storytelling and the vibrancy of Kwan’s illustrations. In doing so, they will also gain a little additional knowledge of history and, perhaps, they will develop a taste for finding out more of the fascinating stories from the past.
Dr. Gregory Bryan is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba. He specialises in literature for children.