By Christopher Zoukis
Hasenmatz will fliegen is the title of the story in Germany, where it was first published. It was written and illustrated by Rolf Fanger and Ulrike Moltgen. In English the title is Benjamin Bunny Learns to Fly.
It’s a story for children.
Benjamin Bunny decides he would like to fly like his friend Red Bird. When he tells Bella Bunny his idea, she informs him that bunnies can’t fly. Benjamin Bunny, of course, refuses to listen. He tells his friend Butterfly, who advises him to practice flapping his arms. Benjamin does, but crashes. Butterfly suggests that Benjamin consult Bee, who might have some usable advice about how to fly.
Enthusiastic until the end, Benjamin talks with Bee. She tells him that his problem is the vertical stripes on his pants. They must be horizontal. And don’t forget to buzz, she adds. “Buzzing is very important.”
Benjamin Bunny paints horizontal stripes on his pants, and runs off buzzing into a field. Ladybug observes this odd behavior and asks Benjamin what he is doing? Once informed, Ladybug tells Benjamin that his arms are too thin and the color is wrong. Ever eager, Benjamin makes a pair of red wings for himself, with black polka dots, of course.
Benjamin then visits Sylvia Hen to solicit her advice on flying. Sylvia Hen tells him that the secret to flying is a good beak, big and yellow. Benjamin makes a beak for himself.
Ready now to finally fly, he goes to the field. Red Bird shows up and doesn’t recognize Benjamin Bunny in his flying outfit: horizontal stripes, yellow beak, red wings with black polka dots, and oh yes, three feathers given to him by his friend Froggie. When asked, Benjamin tells Red Bird that his name is Jet Bird.
Red Bird challenges Jet Bird to a flying contest. Jet Bird suggests that tomorrow would be a better day for it. Red Bird, unconvinced, insists that the contest take place immediately.
Benjamin Bunny, aka Jet Bird, bounds off at full speed up a hill and fortunately catches a gust of wind just as he leaps into the air. He soars like a bird. In the end, the wind dies down and he lands in a pond.
Red Bird, amazed, compliments Benjamin Bunny, “You’re an amazing rabbit! First you fly like a bird, then you swim like a frog.”
Red Bird invites Benjamin Bunny to fly to Africa with him. Benjamin Bunny declines saying “There are lots of other things I want to learn how to do.”
The story speaks of potential, the potential of anything being possible and the curse of words, where there’s always someone around to tell you that it’s impossible, that you’re crazy, and that you should be realistic because you can’t do it. It’s also the story of unquenchable enthusiasm, which is as rare as ten-carat diamonds.