The rabbit, feeling a bit out of place and a bit unworthy, nonetheless yearned to be loved, not for what he could be or should have been, but rather for what he truly was. What child (or adult, for that matter) can't find meaning here? Children yearn for love and acceptance, and unfortunately we live in a world in which that acceptance and approval usually consists of things being bigger, stronger, better, prettier, faster, newer.
The rabbit is not the 'best' toy in the boy's collection; he's not the most expensive, the best constructed, or the most interesting. But as the wise old Skin Horse knows, it isn't in the flashy paint and moving parts that true love grows. True love makes one real, and it takes a special being and a deliberate process to become real. '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.'
Being real can hurt, but the rabbit in the process of becoming real barely notices that his velveteen fur is rubbing off, his tail is coming undone, his pink nose is worn and his whiskers are gone. He knows he is loved, especially during the boy's serious illness (the story was written shortly after the great flu pandemic that claimed countless lives in the early part of the twentieth century, and other childhood illnesses were still commonplace killers even in the most technologically advanced countries, perhaps another aspect of how technology can fail to address the 'real').
The ending is poignant and significant - reality means something different for the rabbit than he anticipated, but it is a joyous happening nonetheless. The Skin Horse, the rabbit and the boy are all real, and serves as an extended parable on how right relationships can overcome much adversity.
This is one of my favourite stories of all time, and the drawings accompanying this edition are very apt and special.
Added to this edition is a foreword by Toni Raiten-D'Antonio, whose book 'The Velveteen Principles' explores the different ways in which the lessons of the book can enrich the lives of adults and children of all ages. A wonderful addition to a wonderful book.