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Rabbityness Hardcover – November 1, 2012
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There are certain activities that qualify as “rabbity”: hopping, jumping, burrowing, and so on. And the rabbit in this picture book does all of these things, but he also engages in pursuits that are decidedly unrabbity, namely painting and making music. The opening spreads, which depict Rabbit doing his typical rabbit thing, are illustrated by debut author-illustrator Empson as small, dark, minimalist spots. But when readers turn the page onto the fourth spread, they will be delighted to find it brimming with bright abstract art and an ebullient Rabbit clutching a paintbrush. Unfortunately, partway through, Rabbit up and disappears, and all we see on the page are some representative sad floating leaves. Rabbit never returns, which is an unusual ending for a picture book, but he leaves behind a creative legacy. Empson’s illustrations, which switch back and forth between black-and-white and full color, chart the emotional course for the book. Rabbit’s disappearance—and the aftermath—will speak to children about looking on the bright side during times of loss or change, while proving the uplifting nature of art. Preschool-Grade 2. --Ann Kelley
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Sometimes I get requests from parents or teachers for books dealing with very specific grief situations. If I can't find the perfect fit from my bookshelf I definitely feel frustrated. Rabbityness is a really special story I can use to cover a lot of different grief or tragedy situations. Rabbit disappears in the story - but no one knows why or what happened to him. I like that there's no answer as to what happened because I can help the child relate their own story to Rabbit.
"One day. Rabbit disappeared. The other rabbits were very sad. They couldn't find him anywhere. The woods were quiet and gray. All that Rabbit had left was a hole...a DEEP dark hole."
Wow. The deep dark hole can represent a lot of different feelings for children. The second part of the story shows the other rabbits learning how to cope with their loss. What I see as a healing step for kids is to talk about how to fill the void they might be feeling. What coping skills could they use to fill that deep dark hole.......
Absolutely love this one and see it HELPING me as a counselor and the grieving children I work with throughout the year.
The book begins with a plain black rabbit and a review of all the ordinary, "rabbity" things he likes to do. He likes hopping and sleeping, jumping, and washing his ears. These illustrations are quite stark, and then the page explodes with color as we discover the "unrabbity" things that Rabbit likes to do. He loves to paint and make music, and the illustration of a color splotched forest accompanied by the text "It made him so happy" made me happy too. It is at this point that things take a somber turn. The forest turns back into a quiet and gray place and we learn that Rabbit has disappeared. The other rabbits are sad and go to rabbit's hole to look for him. They do find that he has left gifts for all of them! Lots of things to make color and music, and each rabbit is then able to discover his own "unrabbity" side. The forest is no longer a quiet and gray place, but once again is full of music and color.
The best line is this: "This made them think of Rabbit, which made them happy."
This is a true gift for any parent helping a young child deal with loss. I have seen and read many books for children dealing with this issue, but seldom have I seen one that captures such a feeling of joy and whimsy. This short story invites discussion and exploration without ever being heavy handed. It will encourage young ones to remember what made their loved one unique and to celebrate those characteristics. It encourages a love of life even in the face of loss, and for that reason is an enthusiastic recommend.