Dear Peter Rabbit

Dear Peter Rabbit
Querido Pedrín


Parent’s Choice Honor Award
Pick of the Lists, Amer­i­can Book­sellers Association


One of the Three Lit­tle Pigs is host­ing a house­warm­ing, and Peter Rab­bit would love to go. But he’s in bed with a cold after a nar­row escape from Mr. McGregor’s gar­den. Mean­while, Goldilocks is plan­ning her birth­day party and hop­ing her new friend Baby Bear can come (he’s for­given her for break­ing his favorite chair). But with the Big Bad Wolf on the prowl and Lit­tle Red Rid­ing Hood head­ing off to grandmother’s house, there’s no telling how things may end!

This lively col­lec­tion of let­ters writ­ten by famous sto­ry­book char­ac­ters takes us behind the scenes in the land of make-believe.


Lit­tle could I have imag­ined that a play­ful act to keep me awake one evening while dri­ving home would result in the cre­ation of a whole new world, the world of “Hid­den For­est”. Of course, it took the genius of Leslie Tryon to make it true. I’m fre­quently asked how I came up with the idea for Peter Rab­bit. It hap­pened with­out plan­ning. Dri­ving home, afraid to fall sleep while dri­ving after a long day of classes, I would dic­tate into my tape recorder, notes to myself and to my stu­dents. Once, just for fun I started talk­ing with the voices of pigs and wolves. Many months later, when I acci­den­tally dis­cov­ered the record­ing, I real­ized there was a book to be written.

I will always be thank­ful to Jonathan Lohn­man for begin­ning the col­lab­o­ra­tion with Leslie Tryon. Dear Peter Rab­bit has been fol­lowed by Yours Truly, Goldilocks, in Span­ish Aten­ta­mente, Ric­i­tos de Oro; With Love, Lit­tle Red Hen, and Extra! Extra! Fairy-tale News from Hid­den For­est, in Span­ish ¡Extra! ¡Extra! Noti­cias del Bosque Escon­dido.

What a mar­velous adven­ture it has been to cre­ate this Hid­den For­est world! And what a wel­comed sur­prise that this book has been pub­lished in Korea, trans­lated to the Korean language.


Pub­lish­ers Weekly

Rem­i­nis­cent of Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s hugely suc­cess­ful The Jolly Post­man, this clever pic­ture book cre­ates a fic­ti­tious flurry of cor­re­spon­dence between such famil­iar char­ac­ters as Goldilocks (here given the sur­name McGre­gor, with a wink and a nod to Beat­rix Pot­ter), the Three Pigs, Baby Bear, Red Rid­ing Hood and Peter Rab­bit. As the plot thick­ens (will Goldilocks make a return visit to the Bears’ house? Will Peter Rab­bit be well enough to attend the Three Pigs’ house­warm­ing party?), Ada inven­tively weaves together the criss-crossing let­ters, neatly tying up the loose ends with a finale wherein the entire assem­bly (except for the now-tailless wolf) shows up for Goldilocks’s birth­day party. Ada clearly had fun extrap­o­lat­ing the char­ac­ters’ pri­vate lives, and her sunny treat­ment finds ready com­pan­ion­ship in Tryon’s del­i­cately col­ored, lov­ingly detailed pen-and-ink and water­color art. A Span­ish edi­tion, Querido Pedrin, is being issued simul­ta­ne­ously. Ages 5–8.

School Library Journal

Pre-School–Grade 3: A series of lively let­ters penned by beloved sto­ry­book char­ac­ters tells an enter­tain­ing and imag­i­na­tive tale. As the Big Bad Wolf lurks just out of sight, Pig One writes to Peter Rab­bit, invit­ing him to a house­warm­ing party at his newly built straw house. Mean­while, Baby Bear sends Goldilocks a note ask­ing her to visit, admon­ish­ing her to “knock on the door first before you come in.” In reply, Goldilocks McGre­gor writes about veg­eta­bles miss­ing from the gar­den and the “tiny jacket” and “tini­est pair of shoes” found by her father. Peter sends his regrets to Pig One; he caught cold while hid­ing from Mr. McGre­gor in a “half-full” water­ing can. Not to worry, due to uncon­trol­lable cir­cum­stances the party will take place at Stick House at a later date. The chatty cor­re­spon­dence con­tin­ues, cul­mi­nat­ing in a birth­day party that brings the char­ac­ters face to face. Care­fully weav­ing together the lives of these lit­er­ary favorites into a seam­less plot, Ada uses famil­iar ele­ments to cre­ate a con­vinc­ing and intrigu­ing make-believe world. In addi­tion to being fun to read, the let­ters move events along quickly and cre­ate a unique voice for each author. Tyron’s invit­ing illus­tra­tions, ren­dered in pen and ink with water­col­ors, add both detail and dimen­sion. Whether author or recip­i­ent is depicted, the pic­tures include and expand on the con­tents of each let­ter. Draw­ings of Peter Rab­bit and Mr. McGre­gor are appro­pri­ately rem­i­nis­cent of Beat­rix Potter’s orig­i­nals. Chil­dren will be enchanted by this oppor­tu­nity to meet famil­iar faces in new set­tings. –Joy Fleish­hacker, New York Pub­lic Library


Ages 3–6: Ada uses an amus­ing con­ceit to add to children’s knowl­edge of the fairy-tale world. The text is a series of let­ters between such favorites as Peter Rab­bit, Goldilocks, and one of the three lit­tle pigs, and there’s even a hasty note from one big bad wolf to another. The let­ters loosely con­sti­tute a story, but it is the cozy feel­ing of see­ing inside these char­ac­ters’ lives that is the book’s real sell­ing point. Tryon’s ink-and-watercolor illus­tra­tions are a delight­ful com­ple­ment to the let­ters, fresh and filled with the detail that brings a reader back for a sec­ond and third look. Espe­cially amus­ing is the two-page spread fea­tur­ing the let­ter from the three lit­tle pigs’ wolf to Red Rid­ing Hood’s wolf, which reads in part: “Per­haps we would do well to change our diet. It is not a pleas­ant prospect, but it may be in our inter­ests to avoid both young girls and pigs from now on.” The pic­ture shows a glum wolf hav­ing a replace­ment tail sewn on after the pigs have chopped off the orig­i­nal and used it for soup. Ilene Cooper.

Kirkus Reviews

The events in four famil­iar tales are clev­erly inter­twined and reported in a dozen let­ters. “Pig One” invites Peter Rab­bit to a house­warm­ing, but he can’t go because he’s in bed sip­ping camomille; Baby Bear wants his new friend Goldilocks McGre­gor to visit; Pigs One and Two report that they’re now safely with Pig Three; Peter gets an unex­pected invi­ta­tion from Goldilocks and com­pli­ments the three pigs on the wolf’s-tail soup served at the house­warm­ing they finally man­aged to cel­e­brate; the wolf orders a new tail and swears off pigs and lit­tle girls. Red Rid­ing Hood wraps up events in a let­ter to her grand­mother, while Tryon (Albert’s Alpha­bet, 1991, ALA Notable) visu­al­izes them in an invit­ing fairy-tale world, gen­tly recall­ing both Gus­tave Dore‚ and Beat­rix Pot­ter with entranc­ing, del­i­cately col­ored cross­hatched detail. In addi­tion to more obvi­ous uses, try a dra­matic read­ing of these pleas­ingly child­like let­ters. Also avail­able in Span­ish (ISBN: 0–689-31915–0). (Pic­ture book. 5–9) — © 1994, Kirkus Asso­ciates, LP.

School Library Journal

Made up entirely of let­ters, this delight­ful book brings Peter Rab­bit, the Three Lit­tle Pigs, Lit­tle Red Rid­ing Hood and the Three Bears together in one vol­ume. In the open­ing let­ter, a lit­tle pig invites Peter rab­bit to a party at the new house made of straw. Peter declines as he is in bed with a cold caught while hid­ing in Mr. McGregor’s water pail. Gen­tle water­color illus­tra­tions com­ple­ment the text nicely. Chil­dren could lis­ten to a few of the let­ters and then be asked to com­pose one them­selves.” (School Library Jour­nal. Novem­ber 1994)

Alma Flor Ada, a pro­lific author of bilin­gually pub­lished children’s books, makes a whim­si­cal and orig­i­nal con­tri­bu­tion with Dear Peter Rab­bit, simul­ta­ne­ously released in a care­fully trans­lated Span­ish edi­tion as Querido Pedrín, both illus­trated by Leslie Tryon. Writ­ten as a series of let­ters between sto­ry­book char­ac­ters Peter rab­bit, the Three Pigs and Goldilocks and her new friend Baby Bear it weaves these and other char­ac­ters together in serendip­i­tous ways until they all con­verge at a birth­day party for Goldilocks.” (–Marc Hall, San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle, 1994)

Les­son Plan

Read­ers’ Responses

Let­ter Writ­ing Book Bun­dle

First and fore­most, engage chil­dren in read­ing their own writing/letters and the work of their peers. As well as pro­vid­ing stu­dents with a rel­e­vant genre in which to learn more about text struc­ture, let­ter writ­ing is very moti­vat­ing for kids. Addi­tion­ally, let­ters pro­vide us with a rel­e­vant vehi­cle to teach stu­dents con­ven­tions and help them care about being mind­ful of con­ven­tions in their own writ­ing.” Read more »

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