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That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown

Cressida Cowell, Neal Layton (illus)
Hodder Children’s Books
Age 5-7 years

Emily Brown has a very special toy, an old grey rabbit called Stanley. Every day they have amazing adventures together; in outer space, under the sea, in the desert and deep in the rainforest. When Queen Gloriana’s chief footman knocks at the door offering to swap Stanley for a brand new teddy Emily says emphatically, ‘NO’. Undeterred the queen sends the army, the navy and the air force, each offering more and more gifts in exchange for Emily’s toy rabbit. Nothing persuades her to part with her favourite toy until the Queen’s special commandos steal Stanley from Emily’s bedroom. Emily is furious and goes immediately to the palace where she finds Queen Gloriana and Stanley in a sorry state. Emily takes charge, rescues Stanley and tells the queen exactly what to do so that she can have a special toy of her own.

A funny, clever story with a great main character which shows some things are just too precious to be bought or swapped and what fun imaginative play with a special toy of your own can be. Brilliant illustrations add to the humour. Emily’s assertive responses to her rather self-important series of visitors make this story fun to read aloud and share again and again.


Share the story

Read aloud
Read the story aloud to your child allowing time to talk about what is happening in the story or pictures

Join in
When children are familiar with the story they might like to join in, perhaps with the rat-a tat-tats and Emily’s replies to the series of visitors trying to make her swap Stanley for gifts.

Talk about the story
Share favourite parts of the story and favourite illustrations

Talk about Emily and Queen Gloriana and how they feel at different points in the story.

Talk about your child’s toys, do any have names? Is one extra special, sharing play adventures?

Watch the story
Watch the story read aloud here

Emma writes:

Phoebe and Noah are really into ‘That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown.’ Phoebe has called her toy rabbit ‘Bunnywunny’ like the toy rabbit in the story.

We had a day out in London and made up our own version of the story in the train on the way.

‘Noah, Phoebe and Bunnywunny were zooming into outer space when ‘Rat, tat, tat!’ along came the army…..’ ‘We went to Buckingham Palace to tell the Queen she can’t have Bunnywunny!’

We got to Buckingham Palace in time to see the changing of the Guard. Then we had a picnic in St James’ Park and switched stories to ‘The Queen’s Handbag’ (Steve Antony) We saw the sneaky swan that stole the handbag on the lake and followed it to other London sights and carried on the storytelling ‘it swooped over to Big Ben and then it flew over the Thames.’

Phoebe ‘read’ the story to her own toy rabbit and made a special picture to send to the Queen telling her she can’t have bunnywunny.



Things to make and do

Play the story
Role play imaginary conversations between Emily and the visitors from the palace.
Encourage your child to have an imaginary play adventure with a special toy just like Emily does.

Draw a picture
Draw a picture of Emily and Stanley having an adventure.

Make a poster
Children could make a poster like Emily’s to say a special toy is not for sale.

Write instructions
Talk together about the instructions Emily gave to Queen Gloriana about how to have her own special toy, using Emily’s ideas and any more your child can add. Then children could make their own numbered list.

Find out more

Find out about author Cressida Cowell here

Read another Emily Brown adventure:

Emily Brown and the Thing

Emily Brown and the Elephant Emergency

Cheer up Teddy Bear, Emily Brown

Find out more about illustrator Neal Layton here

Neal is also the creator of Stanley’s Stick – see our activities here