Let's Make Rabbits
By Leo Lionni, Alfred A. Knopf
The scissors says, "Let's make rabbits" to the pencil. Suddenly, two rabbits appear, one cut out from paper and the other one drawn with pencil. When the rabbits get hungry, the scissors cuts out a picture of a carrot and the pencil draws a carrot so they can eat. Then, one day the rabbits find a real carrot, eat it, and become real.
Guidelines for Philosophical Discussion
By Nancy Soudant
Let’s Make Rabbits is a simple and charming children’s book with a delightful ending from Caldecott Award winning author, Leo Lionni. The story asks some interesting philosophical questions about the nature of reality and what being alive means. These are topics about which there has been a great deal of philosophical disagreement, so they are sure to provoke intense discussion among young children.
The story raises questions about the nature of reality. In the book there is a realistically drawn picture of a carrot, but it is still only a picture - not a real carrot. What distinguishes the illustration of the “real” carrot from an actual carrot? More generally, what is it that makes something real? In the book the pictured rabbits suddenly have shadows of their own after eating the realistically drawn carrot. Does having a shadow make something real, as the rabbits suggest? Questions like these about the nature of reality are designed to prompt children to engage in inquisitive conversations about what actually determines whether or not something is real.
Finally, Let’s Make Rabbits raises the issue about what is required for something to be alive. Does something have to be able to be able to talk, move, eat, and sleep to be alive? Do things have to have minds to be alive? We know that plants and trees are alive, but they don’t move. Potatoes don’t seem to be alive, but then they sprout! What properties must something have in order to count as being alive? These are questions that still cause genuine puzzlement. Let’s Make Rabbits is a great book for children of all ages to enjoy, and opens up the opportunity for anyone to initiate and engage in philosophical discussions about some basic metaphysical questions.
Questions for Philosophical Discussion
By Claudia Catalano, Katie D'Ambly, and Rebecca Bailey
Show a real carrot, on a piece of white paper, beside the illustration of the "real" carrot.
Even before they eat the "real" carrot and get shadows, the scissors and the pencil bunnies talk, move, sleep, and eat.