This is a 1942 edition of a book I've held onto since my childhood. I have no idea why. I most likely obtained it at a thrift-store or a stack of local library books slated for discard. I never reflected on its import to my adult life. Given some of the themes touched on in my own artwork, it now comes as little surprise as to why I identified with it in the first place.
"Fifteen Rabbits: A Celebration Of Life" is a lesser known work by Felix Salten, born Siegmund Salzmann, a Hungarian Jew whose family immigrated to Vienna during the late 19th Century. Originally published in 1929 as "Fünfzehn Hasen: Schicksale in Wald und Feld (Fifteen Rabbits: Fate in Forest and Field)", the book was translated into English by Whittaker Chambers in 1930 (before Chambers became a US Communist Party member turned Soviet spy and, later, Red Scare informant). The book shares a similar structure and themes with a much better known work by the author - "Bambi, Eine Lebensgeschichte aus dem Walde (Bambi, a Life in the Woods)".
Told from the perspective of animals, the story centers on a year in the life of forest-dwelling rabbits, Hops and Plana, as they discover the harrowing dangers of the world in which they grow up. Addressing themes of survival in the wild, the encroachment of mankind on animal habitats, and being hunted by a malevolent presence simply known as "He", Salten's books were banned in Nazi Germany in 1936 because they were viewed as a political apologue regarding the treatment of Jews in Europe. More recently, Salten's animal stories have been interpreted as among the first environmentalist novels, bringing a new perspective to his seemingly ingenuous children's stories.