Literature: The Tale of Peter Rabbit

The Tale of Peter Rabbit was published in 1901 and is Beatrix Potter's first, and most famous children's book.

Peter Rabbit is an anthropomorphic rabbit who lives next door to the (human) farmer, McGregor. His mother's always told him to stay out of Farmer McGregor's garden because Peter's father was killed and eaten there. Of course, Peter foolishly disobeys this advice and sneaks into McGregor's garden to stuff himself on vegetables and get into all sorts of trouble.

It's now in the public domain in the United States and can be read here. A CGI series based on the tale began on CBeebies in December 2012. A special associated with the series aired on Nickelodeon in the United States in December, 2012, and the series began in the U.S. in February 2013.

This book provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Aerith and Bob: "Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names wereŚ Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter."
  • Beast Fable: Listen to your parents, kids. The dangerous strangers they tell you to stay away from are actually dangerous.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Peter escapes with his life, but is left traumatized and ill for a fair while.
  • Black Comedy:
    'Now my dears,' said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, 'you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don't go into Mr. McGregor's garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.'
  • Call Back: The events of this tale are referenced in the one about Peter's cousin Benjamin Bunny, who helps Peter break back into the garden to reclaim his clothes.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Rabbits are not only sapient, but they have a society very similar to humans. They wear clothes, use pots and pans, and sleep on rabbit-sized beds. That said, Mr McGregor bakes Peter's father into a pie.
  • Civilized Animal: Peter and his family, of course. They are very anatomically accurate, but wear clothes and live in well-furnished warrens.
  • Could Have Avoided This Plot had Peter listened to his mother's advice.
  • Forbidden Vegetables: Peter is told not to go in Mr McGregor's garden. He goes in anyway, with predictable results.
  • Freeze Sneeze: Peter sneezes while he's hiding in a half-full watering can.
  • Housewife: Peter's mother, though she also sells tea and tobacco.
  • Inconvenient Sneeze: A sneeze gives Peter away to Mr McGregor when he's hiding in the watering can.
  • Mouse World: Peter and his family live on the fringes of human society.
  • Pantsless Males, Fully-Dressed Females: Peter only wears a jacket/vest, while his mother wears a dress and apron. Peter's sisters, however, only wear shawls.
  • Purple Prose: Famously, when the sparrows saw Peter trapped they "implored him to exert himself."
  • Rascally Rabbit: Peter Rabbit was a notorious troublemaker, as was his cousin Benjamin.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Peter's father died trespassing into Mr McGregor's garden, and Peter almost falls victim to this fate.
  • Weirdness Censor: Mr. Mc Gregor doesn't seem confused upon seeing a rabbit running around wearing clothes.
  • Women Are Wiser: Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail are all smart enough to follow their mother's advise while Peter trespasses into McGregor's garden and nearly ends up a meal like his father.