Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Happy Hares

It was the first time in more than fourteen years.  She had never shown any interest in my flower or vegetable gardens.  There was absolutely no digging ever which was something for that dog.  This spring was different.  There was lots of nose-in-the-year sniffing and intense glances in one particular direction in one particular garden.

A week or so later working in that garden I noticed something a little different around one of my heather plants as I was removing fallen autumn leaves.  Upon lifting up a portion of the plant, there was a hole partially covered and lined with dried grass and little tufts of fur.  The grass was moving gently in a rhythm like breathing.  I had discovered a rabbit's nest with one baby remaining.  Thankful I was wearing gloves, I carefully and quietly lowered the heather branches.  Eventually the tiny hollow was empty.

The presence of rabbits was a constant source of joy regardless of the partially nibbled flowers each year.  Their footprints in the snow each morning was a constant reminder of what I hoped were late-night dance parties.  The Wonderful Habits of Rabbits (little bee books, an imprint of Bonnier Publishing Group, February 2, 2016) written by Douglas Florian with illustrations by Sonia Sanchez follows a herd of these bunny buddies as they celebrate the days of a year.

The habits of rabbit are many, not few,
with plenty of things that they love to do.

If you are out and about for an early morning stroll you might enjoy greeting the sun with a few of these furry friends.  They zig and zag on long and leaping runs.  Spring, summer, fall and winter will find them appreciating the special things each season brings like floating in a favorite pond keeping cool on a warm sunny day.

Their large ears and legs provide for protection and play.  They are keenly aware of the smallest of sounds.  Treasures may be unearthed during their digging competitions.

You'll find high hoppers, race runners and veggie nibblers.  A symphony of sound may drift from a gathering on a grassy knoll.  It's a unique percussion section composed of feet keeping a beat.

As dusk darkens the sky rabbits head to their homes some curling for a night's rest in cozy comfort.  Others are known to cuddle and snuggle.  Final signs of affection welcome the silence of the night.

A lilting, lyrical blend of words written by Douglas Florian flows flawlessly from page to page.  His narrative begins with daybreak and closes with nightfall but seamlessly introduces seasonal activities and singular routines.  Each sentence is a reflection on the essence of rabbits.

Using rhyme and alliteration the words whether read silently or aloud are like singing a song.  As any observer, casual or committed, can tell you, this poetic piece depicts the joy in which these creatures seemingly embrace their lives.  Here is another sample passage.

There's leaping
and creeping and
digging up holes.
There's frightening frogs
and discovering moles.

The lightly colored sky, grass and clouds on the identical dust jacket and book case take us into the rabbit realm where they can play with abandon and without fear.  The delicate, lacy flowers in the grass extend over the spine to continue the illustration to the left on the back.  In the far lower corner a single bunny is munching on one of the finely drawn leaves from a cluster of plants.  None of these eight rabbits are completely alike in color or size.  On the front of the dust jacket the rabbits and red text have a slight lift and shine to them.

On the opening and closing endpapers circular dots in earth tones in a variety of sizes have been placed on the cream-colored background.  On top of these are rabbits; small rabbits, large rabbits, rabbit silhouettes and rabbits in shades of brown, black, gray and white and combinations of these.  Long-stemmed flowers are grouped in three spots.  In the far lower right-hand corner a rabbit reaches on their hind legs to sniff a single blossom.  In the upper left-hand corner a rabbit peeks from the edge watching all the others.

With each page turn readers are treated to a single large image spanning both pages with the exception of four single page pictures.  These rabbits are frisky and fun pausing when necessary but not wasting a moment of their days.  The matte-finished paper is perfect for the subject; as soft as fur.  It's a wonderful canvas for the natural palette.

If you stop at each visual, you will notice the extra details included by illustrator Sonia Sanchez, contributing to the whimsy of her work.  The tiny paws rubbing eyes in the morning, the kerchief worn like a bib as one rabbit enjoys a springtime snack, a bunny eating a carrot as they make a snow rabbit, and a rabbit playing a found recorder as thumping commences are only a few of the smile-worthy extras.  No matter the setting, season or time of time Sanchez's rabbits attract your attention.

One of my favorite of many illustrations is the one depicting spring and summer activities.  It takes place at a pond ringed in edible flowers and leaves.  On the left two rabbits are eating delectable goodies as four other rabbits are floating in the water on the right.  The sky and water are in white, greens and blues.  The flora is shown in hues of gold and green with bright red flowers.  You want to jump right in and join them.

The Wonderful Habits of Rabbits written by Douglas Florian with illustrations by Sonia Sanchez is an utterly charming portrayal of their lives in text and images.  These rabbits' marvelous movements and distinctive moments will leap right into your hearts.  Be ready for requests of read it again.  (I've read it at least ten times.)

To learn more about Douglas Florian and Sonia Sanchez and their work, please follow the links attached to their names to access their websites.  This link will take you to the full jacket, the verso and title pages and two interior images.  Douglas Florian is interviewed at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, KitLit 411, and most recently at Today's Little Ditty.

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