From the home of Stylist

SEVENTIES FICTION: WATERSHIP DOWN BY RICHARD ADAMS

Four reasons we love this epic children’s novel

• It reminds us to stand up for what we believe in. Like warriors from a Greek myth, the rabbits are fiercely loyal and brave. When one of their clan is injured or captured, they hatch cunning plans to save them. They never lose faith in their quest for a better life – even when they’re cowering in a ditch in the pouring rain.

• The language of the field. Richard Adams didn’t just create the rabbits’ characters and environment, he also constructed their language, Lapine, and a general animal language called Hedgerow. It’s put to great effect, woven into the rabbits’ poetry and their tales of the devious folklore hero El-ahrairah.

• Our countryside needs you. From the tragic destruction of Sandleford warren to the predatory humans at Nuthanger Farm, Watership Down highlights the need to protect natural habitats. The residents of the real Sandleford Warren in Berkshire know all about this: they are opposing plans for a residential development.

• Fiver’s second sense. If Fiver says something bad is going to happen – it will. One of the smaller rabbits, his psychic sense (which often culminates in him going into a trance, playing dead or gibbering in panic) saves the rabbits again and again.

Blade Watership Down by Richard Adams (Puffin, £7.99)

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