6 of 8
By Richard Adams
496 pp.; Scribner

Author Richard Adams has said that Watership Down was just a "story about rabbits made up and told in the car" to amuse his children. But the truth is: his classic novel about a group of rabbits that make a harrowing trek to a new home to escape the rumbles of a developer's bulldozer is intense and panoramic. The four-episode animated miniseries out later this year, promises to tone down some of the book's more violent themes and stress its "epic adventure story." (The 1978 animated film version famously unsettled countless children and parents expecting a gentle tale about cute bunnies.) Adams' original book challenges readers in different ways—with references to myth and allegory and a lavish, imaginary language that still bewitches, from the hrududus (vehicles) that terrorize the characters to the owsla who run the warrens and the elil (enemies) who confront them. (Date to be announced, Netflix)