I read this book when I was a kid and remembered it vaguely but fondly. I enjoyed it at least as much reading it again! This book is an absolute classic that every child should read. And all adults too!
Watership Down tells the story of Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig and a group of adventurous rabbits who create a home for themselves. Their story is mixed in with stories out of their rabbit mythology that add context to their rabbit culture. The rabbits meet with much adversity in their attempt to set up a safe and stable burrow for themselves.
I really enjoyed the way the rabbits were slightly anthropomorphized in that they thought (mostly) like people and acted (mostly) like rabbits. It was an insightful combination of elements that created a totally plausible-seeming thinking rabbit. They thought like very simple people, generally, and came off as only a little more industrious than a real rabbit would.
The narration broke the fourth wall a few times by describing actual rabbit behavior. I am sort of a stickler for consistent and logical points of view, so the narration that suddenly broke into rabbit facts was very off-putting and distracting. I think that might be a function of how old the book is though! It was written nearly 40 years ago, so maybe that style was more normal at the time.
In addition to the adventure story, I really liked the values imparted by this book. It really is all about inexplicable bravery, loyalty, and perseverance. I would not call it subtle, but it is really effective. The way the rabbits, particularly Hazel, rise to all occasions and refuse to give up is really positive. Not super subtle though. One bit upset me with its Vietnam-era parody with notably silly rabbits saying statements such as the following regarding a war that was pretty well justified in the story:
'It was all a very wicked thing,' said another dow. 'Shameful, really. If nobody fought in wars, there wouldn't be any, would there? But you can't get old rabbits to see that.'Super subtle. But trivial complaints aside, I really loved this book. It is a really fun story with positive, good values. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to a kid or adult!