Books: Happy Birthday, Peter Rabbit and Friends

In 1902 a young rodent hopped to life in the pages of a cautionary tale. His name was Peter, and he was to become the most celebrated rabbit since the Easter Bunny. Now, upon his 75th birthday, the little creature betrays no signs of age—or, for that matter, maturity. Nor do Squirrel Nutkin, Jemima Puddle-Duck, Tom Kitten or any of the other animals in the watercolor menagerie of Beatrix Potter. The writer was a victim of Victorian repression —she did not leave home until the age of 47—and her prose is marked with arch names and marred with punishments for the...

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