Tale piece

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The Independent Online

If an institution as powerfully entrenched as the House of Lords couldn't resist the tide of modernisation, then there was never very much hope that a mere rabbit will be able to escape the attention of the reformers. And so it has proved. Peter Rabbit, a children's favourite for some 99 years, is to be given a makeover. Surely this is a turning point in our cultural history?

Well, perhaps not. Just as the House of Lords was allowed to retain some hereditary peers, so the changes to The Tales of Peter Rabbit are less revolutionary than might first be thought. For a start, the images of Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, Jemima Puddleduck, Tom Kitten and Squirrel Nutkin are to be left alone entirely. Peter Rabbit is not, in fact, going to mimic today's fashions and be seen in a baseball cap, trainers and a sarong, with perhaps a couple of earstuds. No, he is not!

His jacket has a slightly more contemporary cut, and, his publishers say, in new editions of The Tales of Peter Rabbit "we have produced some images showing him tumbling around." He is a "more graphic" rabbit. And that's about it. Most important, the stories are unchanged. Truly this is a tale of traditional values in a modern setting.