Rabbits and Snakes is an unsentimental story of children growing up poor on the edge of town. The narrator’s father catches rabbits more or less in the backyard and his mother serves them soon after for dinner. Rabbits were a good source of meat for the family, but our young narrator frequently, and secretly, throws his in the bin. If food must be foraged he would much prefer to eat the blackberries that grow around the creek below his house. But there’s a problem – the creek is also home to a huge snake: ‘It must have been all of twenty foot long’.
Richard Garth’s wonderfully vivid stories are amplified by Vicky Duncan’s bold line illustrations, which add flashes of black humour to events. In Rabbits and Snakes life on the margins is redeemed by the raw energy of the telling, and by children sticking together in great adversity and adventure. Though modest in scale Rabbits and Snakes packs a mighty punch.
Richard Garth drew upon his own childhood growing up in Tasmania. Vicky Duncan grew up in Kamilaroi country learning about her culture and her language from her father.