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Rhyming Dust Bunnies Hardcover – January 6, 2009
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Three dust bunnies, Ed, Ned, and Ted, rhyme all the time. They say that far, jar, and tar rhyme with car, but a fourth dust bunny, Bob, just does not seem to get it; he says, “Look!” When they try and teach him that rug, hug, and mug rhyme with bug, he says, “Look out!” Of course, the smug majority is wrong. Bob’s warnings come true and when a broom and then a vacuum cleaner prove him right, the rhyming trio ask Bob what rhymes with “How do we get out?” With thick black lines and neon colors, the dust creatures on the bright colored pages look like the huge monsters that they think they are––until the big, powerful human tools take over. Preschoolers will recognize how it feels to be just a mite in a grown-up world, and they will enjoy the playful rhymes and simple wordplay as much as the bold scenarios of the tiniest creatures in danger from giants, and one hero who sees it coming.
About the Author
Jan Thomas is the creator of Rhyming Dust Bunnies; Can You Make a Scary Face?; Here Comes the Big, Mean Dust Bunny!; Is Everyone Ready for Fun?; and Let’s Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy. She lives with her family in Socorro, New Mexico.
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Meet the rhyming dust bunnies: Ed, Ned, Ted, and Bob. As they like to say "We rhyme all the time!" On this particular day Ed starts them off with wondering "Hey! What rhymes with car?" Everyone puts in a vote except for Bob. Bob's sort of staring in the distance and saying things like "Look!" and "Look Out!" The other bunnies are confused by Bob's seeming inability to rhyme. Even when he says "Look out! Here comes a big scary monster with a broom!" they're not quite catching on. Finally he screams out "Run for it!" and the troop run and hide under a dresser. However, when they attempt to restart their rhyming antics, "sat" "pat" and "rat" are completed with Bob's timely "vacuum cleaner!" and with a mighty "Thwptt" off they go.
I handed this book to my husband after I started snorting over it (for about the fifth time) and was much pleased to find that he was just as amused by it as I was. He pointed out to me that this is one of those books where kids at different ages will catch on to what's going on at different points. Older, savvier children are going to be on edge from the moment Bob says his first "Look!". Younger tots might not get it until "Look Out!" or the long monologue involving the word "broom". I did entertain the brief thought that maybe small children wouldn't like to see the book end with the bunnies in the vacuum cleaner, but honestly it's a pretty funny ending. The bunnies aren't hurt, after all. Just flailing the occasional limb.
I don't mind digital illustrations when they're done well. And Thomas has that rare gift for synthesizing a book down to its most essential parts. It's difficult to describe her art without using the word "goofy" over and over, but that's what it is. There's this weird manic energy to each of her pieces. Part of what I love about the art for this book is her characters, though. When Bob fails to rhyme the other bunnies don't tease or chastise him. There's this great moment when Ted puts out his hand towards Bob, sympathetically maybe, and gently reminds him that "Look!" does not rhyme with "car". The other bunnies stand there, looking over, their mouths completely missing at this point. Now Bob, to his credit, never lets his eyes leave the big scary object in the distance. Reading this book, his eyes are focused just over the reader's left shoulder. I think that's mighty clever. It gives the sense that whatever Bob's looking at, it's probably just behind the reader (a nice psychological trick).
Thomas has always had an eye for a pure, bright color. In this book the bunnies are red, blue, green, and purple. One imagines the interesting conversations that will occur as parents try to convince their kids that under normal circumstances dust bunnies are hardly so cheery looking. Their backgrounds are, as with most Thomas books, a series of shifting tones. Danger (as defined by Bob) is indicated by a red background, which pops up more often than the other colors. Not, interestingly enough, when they're sucked up by the vacuum cleaner (that's blue) but otherwise it's pretty consistent.
Check out the writing as well. Not many words, but oh the things they do. Kids (and parents) who reread this book for the fifth or sixth time may notice that while the other bunnies have rhyming names like Ed, Ned, and Ted, Bob is the only one who stands apart. And as a read aloud choice, I've already had a lot of fun with this one. Like "What Will Fat Cat Sit On?" the book directly addresses the child reader. So much so that the last image is of the bunnies asking the person reading the book for a little help. But every line has magnificent potential to it. Consider when Ned notes that Bob's long warning "does not rhyme with ANYTHING, really." I love the use of the word "really". And when the bunnies hide under the dresser Ned's "Good call, Bob" is fan-freakin-tastic. A killer line. Funny to its core.
My only question now is how long is it going to take before Jan Thomas starts writing some easy readers for kids just beginning to learn to read on their own? Because frankly, Mo Willems needs someone to challenge his Elephant and Piggie-based throne. Until that happy day arrives, we'll have to be content with little gems like this book. It seems strange that something this simple could be this disarming and funny. Rhyming will (hopefully) never be the same again.