The terms and criteria for receiving a Newbery Award are well defined. Each year the Medal is awarded to what is considered the author of "the most distinguished contribution to American Literature for Children published in the United States during the preceding year." (ALSC, ).
"A. Committee members are asked to consider the following:.
Interpretation of theme or concept,.
Presentation of information including accuracy, clarity, and organization,.
Development of plot,.
Delineation of characters,.
Delineation of setting, .
Appropriateness of style.
B. Committee members must consider excellence of presentation for a child audience." (ALSC).
Rabbit Hill met these standards in 1945, and has since stood the test of time, remaining to this day a favorite of children. It's steady readership has kept it in print along with six other of Robert Lawson's books, and this combined with the fact that he is the only author to win both the Newbery and Caldecott Medals, assure his place as a significant contributor to twentieth century children's literature. (Cech).
The premise of the book surrounds a community of animals that live on Rabbit Hill. The farmhouse has been empty for a while and the previous tenants were slovenly and derelict. Times have been hard of late for the animals, and provisions scarce. Mr. Lawson introduces the reader to the animal characters one by one as news of " New Folk Coming", to live in the farmhouse passes from one to another. The animal's personalities are based somewhat on man's conception of each species" general characteristics and are further fleshed out by lively dialogue. Thus, the reader is able to see the regality and aloofness, in Red Buck's stately nature and Phewie's low-class, comic relief in the following exchange.
""You do have such low tastes, Phewie," said the Buck. "er-by the way, the breeze seems to have shifted-would you mind? There, that's fine, thanks, as I was saying- .