- Age Range: 4 - 7 years
- Grade Level: Preschool - 2
- Lexile Measure: 490 (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 32 pages
- Publisher: Groundwood Books (October 6, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1554987415
- ISBN-13: 978-1554987412
- Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.5 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #715,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Two White Rabbits Hardcover – October 6, 2015
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From School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—A young girl and her father face challenges together as they move from place to place. They travel by foot and by train and are happy to catch a ride with passersby when they can. Sometimes their journey is delayed (or derailed) when they must stop because of soldiers or if father has to earn more money to continue along their way. Told entirely through the sensibility of the child, the narration informs readers that "the people who are taking us don't always take us where we are going." The young girl passes the time by counting the interesting items she sees such as animals, people, clouds, and stars. She is very curious about where they are headed, but never receives an answer to her query. Yet, she is content because she has her daddy and her two white rabbits. This simple, yet poignant picture book beautifully illustrates the life of one migrating family. Set in Central America or Mexico, it shows the arduous journey north to the United States in search of a better life. This book is a great tool for introducing immigration, and can be appreciated on many levels. The digitally created illustrations are detailed and full of expression, telling a story of love, struggle, and determination. VERDICT An important and timely picture book for every library collection.—Amy Shepherd, St. Anne's Episcopal School, Middleton, DE
A School Library Journal Best Picture Book of the Year
A NCTE Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children Recommended Book
A USBBY Outstanding International Book
A Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of the Year
Selected for the Notable Books for a Global Society list
"Hope and hardship coexist in this haunting look at refugees fleeing home in hopes of a safer, more secure life." Publishers Weekly, starred review
"An important and timely picture book for every library collection." School Library Journal, starred review
"...it's a masterpiece of understatement. In leaving readers with much to wonder about, the book packs the most powerful of punches." Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Two White Rabbits belongs on bookshelves everywhere: it’s an extraordinary, compelling first step to understanding and empathy, and a persuasive teaching tool to inspire effective doing." BookDragon
"Older readers will appreciate the allegory, and younger ones the simplicity of this spare immigration tale." Booklist
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Top customer reviews
This simple yet compelling story narrates the immigrant journey of a young girl and her father as they cross through Central America to come to the United States. Although it is made clear through various context clues—the landscape and geography of the illustrations, big signs written in Spanish, and the phenotypes of the characters—that this is a Central American migration, the family’s country of origin is never specified, nor is their destination. In effect, the story produces a seemingly-generic, non-descript story of immigration, reflecting the all-too-common occurrence of this real-life narrative. As noted by Kirkus Reviews, “In leaving readers with much to wonder about, the book packs the most powerful of punches.” The story expertly captures the white-washing of immigrant narratives, both within literature and the media, as well as through legal and political responses (or lack thereof).
Two White Rabbits focuses on one family amongst the hundreds of thousands who make this perilous journey each year. This immigrant narrative is so common that it cannot be confined to any one family or any one individual; rather, it is lived and experienced by countless families and individuals. This story’s vagueness is one of its most sophisticated strengths, emerging as a poignant critique on human, immigrant and refugee rights. Although immigrants and refugees and, generally speaking, human beings, should never be reduced to mere numbers, identifiable only through saddening statistics, this compelling story reminds us that, lamentably, they often are.
The story begins with a two-page spread of a little girl riding on the shoulders of her father, their arms spread out like wings as they run down the street with warm grins on their faces. The background is completely white, negative space, and instead of seeing a presumed backdrop of a city or town, all we see is the road, the sidewalk, and the girl with her dad. The words read: “When we travel, I count what I see.” The narration is from the first-person perspective of the little girl. On the next page is another two-page spread with no words. The little girl and her father are bent down looking at the ground, where several hens and baby chicks scamper about. The words on the previous page, “I count what I see,” subtly invite readers to count what they see on this wordless spread of images. Young readers could count how many baby chicks they see, how many hens, how many brown hens, how many white hens. This style invites readers to take the time to “read” the illustrations, number what they see, and make detailed observations. The beginning pages immediately set the tone for the book as a whole, letting readers know that the images are crucial for understanding the story. Again, as mentioned in the preceding paragraph, this picture book has the hallmarks of a graphic novel, with sparse, vague words that rely heavily on the storytelling ability of the images.
The abundant white, negative space that we see on the first page continues throughout the story. Detailed images stop short, giving way to blank, white nothingness. This visual technique can be seen as a powerful reinforcement of the broader narrative, serving to symbolize the imminent erasure of this family’s experiences.
This pattern continues throughout the rest of the book: sparse words appear on one page, followed by a two-page spread of just images on the next. Not only does this approach contribute to the symbolism and literary poignancy of the story, but it also creates a wonderful exercise in counting, observation, and interpretation for young readers. The deliberate silences of the narrative, and the simplicity of the story line as a whole, grants teachers the opportunity to fill in these blanks with their students through a variety of potential lesson plans and activities: for example, a lesson on immigration narratives and refugee rights (for older students, perhaps); a lesson on the geographical landscapes of Central America (for intermediate students); or a lesson on counting and verbal description (for younger students).
Buitrago dedicates this book to “my dear Adriana/ and the invisible walkers through/ the countries.” The mistreatment of and negligence towards South American immigrants, who are often, in fact, refugees, has stripped them of even more human rights, and rendered them “invisible walkers through countries,” non-identifiable statistics, and, ultimately, a phenomenon in need of urgent attention.
This book is at once simple and complex, generic and diverse, sweet and chilling, all of which contributes to its success. As a whole, it expertly renders difficult topics accessible and enriching for young children, reminding us, through it all, of the amazing power of the unsung heroes in our personal lives.
Pros: A fascinating and eye-opening story for children living north of the border. The text, in the little girl’s voice, doesn’t explain many of the things going on in the illustrations, like the father grabbing his daughter and fleeing from soldiers. There are few details given about their homeland, making the story more universal
Cons: It’s hard to understand what’s going on just from reading the text. Young readers will need an adult to give the story some context.