Thursday, 24 February 2011

Rabbit's Year

Rabbit's Year by Melissa Keil, illustrated by Jedda Robaard (black dog books)
HB RRP $14.99
ISBN 978-1-74203-175-0
Reviewed by Vicki Stanton

Rabbit's Year is an absolutely gorgeous picture book that young children are bound to delight in. The story is simple and written with restraint. Nothing is overplayed in either the text or the illustrations.

Rabbit knows he would be a great friend. He is generous and kind and 'usually happy'. Rabbit is also shy and lonely and consoles himself by playing music. One day, when Rabbit loses himself in his tune, its strength reaches out to the other characters of the Chinese zodiac (who all play music together) and one-by-one they join him.

The first double-spread pulls at the heart strings. In the top left hand corner there are three words: Rabbit was sad. On the opposite page in the bottom right hand corner is the saddest rabbit you will ever see. White space is used to great effectiveness focusing the reader's eye on the absolute core of the story. The illustrations are gentle and comforting and Robaard is skilled in portraying the personality and emotions of each character.

Rabbit's Year has been released to coincide with Chinese New Year and the characteristics of each of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac is expanded upon in a reference at the end of the story. This book would be a charming gift for any young 'rabbit' and one which highlights friendship and self-worth.

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