A past pupil of the Academy, Elisabeth Shaw, produced a series of children’s books in German that have stayed in print since her death in 1992. She was educated at Belfast Royal Academy in the 1930/40s and later wrote a famous children’s fable in German – Der kleine Angsthase – The Timid Little Rabbit, who goes from zero to hero by teaching a lesson to a sneaky fox. A school in Berlin still bears her name. Our German Erasmus Teacher, Florian Graf, has translated the German fable and has left us with this beautiful story in English.
The Timid Little Rabbit
Once upon a time, there was a timid little rabbit.
He lived with his dear Grandma. Alas, she was very timid herself.
“Always be on your guard, little one”, she used to say. “Something could happen to you.”
The timid little rabbit was afraid of the dog. Grandma said: “Dogs bite.”
He was afraid of the dark. Grandma said: “There are robbers and ghosts.”
He was afraid of the water. Grandma said: “You will drown.”
He was afraid of big boys. Grandma said: “They will hurt you.”
“Timid rabbit, scared rabbit!” The other rabbits yelled. They wouldn’t play with him.
The timid little rabbit cried and cried. He was very lonely.
“You need to face your fears”, his dear Uncle Henry said.
“Just don’t be scared”. Easier said than done.
The timid little rabbit would rather play with little Ulli.
One awful day the nightmare of all rabbits came sneaking into town: the Fox!
All the rabbits ran away as fast as they could. They hid in their houses.
The timid little rabbit and little Ulli ran too.
But little Ulli couldn’t run very fast. So the Fox caught little Ulli.
“The bad Fox will eat my dear Ulli!” The timid little rabbit yelled. “What should I do?”
He faced his fears and grabbed the Fox by his tail. Ulli was free.
But the bad Fox bared his teeth and turned and twisted.
I’ll throw him into the thistles, the smart Fox thought to himself.
But the timid little rabbit wouldn’t let go.
The Fox dashed across the meadow.
But the timid little rabbit held firmly onto his tail.
The Fox ran towards a tree. The timid little rabbit had an idea.
He let go. The Fox crashed into the tree and got himself a mighty bump on his head.
The timid little rabbit and little Ulli were gloating.
The Fox made a run for it.
The other rabbits were happy too.
The Mayor gave a medal to the timid little rabbit: for his courage!
There you go, said dear Uncle Henry and all the rabbits yelled: “Bravo!”
At home, Grandma sighed:” Little one, weren’t you afraid something could happen to you?”
“I didn’t have the time to think of it”, said the timid little rabbit.
“I was only thinking about little Ulli.”
The next day, all the rabbits yelled:” There he is, the brave rabbit!”
He has beaten the Fox. Everybody played together.
And so, the timid little rabbit wasn’t timid anymore.