Rabbityness by Jo Empson

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Rabbityness by Jo Empson

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: A colourful, unusual, moving story for little ones that deals beautifully with the idea of loss and rediscovering happiness.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: February 2012
Publisher: Child's Play (International) Ltd
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1846434822

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Longlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2013

Rabbit is a very rabbity rabbit. He loves doing rabbity things like hopping and jumping, washing his ears and burrowing. He also likes doing unrabbity things too, like painting, and making music, filling the woods where he lives with music and colour! But one day, Rabbit disappears. Where has he gone? The other rabbits find everything has become grey and silent without Rabbit. They find that Rabbit left behind some gifts, lots of things to make colour and music with. Together they all begin to discover that they enjoy doing unrabbity things, and that doing these things makes them think of Rabbit and they feel happy.

I found this book to be an unexpected pleasure. It's a strangely moving story, although those tears in the corner of my eye could be more to do with reading it whilst heavily pregnant I suppose! Still, the story has a delicate simplicity to it as we see first all the things that Rabbit loves to do and then, just as simply, one day Rabbit is gone.

The description of Rabbit going missing is quite simple, and I felt that the line All that Rabbit had left was a hole...a DEEP dark hole was a very simple way for small children to understand about how losing someone you love can make you feel. It works for grown ups too, I think. And the accompanying illustration of the text set within a large black circle works well. Fortunately we are not left mourning Rabbit's departure, but see the other rabbits quickly finding Rabbit's paints and musical instruments. I like the thought that by doing the things Rabbit loved to do the other Rabbits both find themselves happily remembering rabbit and rediscovering happiness for themselves too.

The illustrations throughout are lovely, again often very simple with a lovely watercolour-wash feel to them. The colourful, musical pages seem full of life, and the page showing Rabbit feeling very happy is lovely. The bright pages contrast well with those in grey and black washes which show the sadness of the other rabbits, and slowly the colour creeps back in until the woods are once again bright and noisy with happiness.

I'm aware that this could sound like a rather depressing story, but it's actually very lovely. It would work very well to help little children deal with any death or loss in their lives, but it also still works as a story to enjoy and share together, with the idea that when you remember people who aren't there, or do the things they loved to do, it can make you feel happy too. A lovely, unusual picture book. We also enjoyed Empson's Never Ever.

You may also like to take a look at The Bear and the Wildcat by Kazuni Yumoto and Komako Sakai

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Buy Rabbityness by Jo Empson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Rabbityness by Jo Empson at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Rabbityness by Jo Empson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Rabbityness by Jo Empson at Amazon.com.


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