As those of you who have read this book already will have guessed, and those who read on will find out, I didn’t choose to review Two White Rabbits today to prolong the Easter festivities (spoiler alert: this review does not contain chocolate) nor because I mistakenly think Easter is in April this year. The two white rabbits have nothing to do with this or any other holiday, although I did choose to publish this review on the eve of International Children’s Book Day. Instead, these rabbits have everything to do with those seeking a life in which celebrations are possible.
Title: Two White Rabbits
Written By: Jairo Buitrago
Illustrated By: Rafael Yockteng
Publisher/date: Groundwood Books, 2015
Suitable for Ages: 4-7 (per the publisher)
Themes/Topics: Migration, refugees, counting, journey
Opening: “When we travel, I count what I see. Five cows, four hens and one chucho, as my dad calls them.”
Brief Synopsis: Like the two white rabbits of the title, a young girl and her father journey together trying to find a way to, and across, a border.
Links to Resources: The unnamed narrator counts what she sees as she travels. Young listeners can also count what they see, either in the illustrations, in a room, house or garden, or during a journey. The narrator also counts clouds and finds shapes there, another possible activity for a young listener.
As I mentioned in my review of Mama’s Nightingale, there are a few teacher and classroom resources available online to explore immigration: Scholastic’s Immigration Stories: Yesterday and Today, focuses primarily on the Ellis Island experience, but includes oral histories, including child immigrants from more recent eras; TeachersFirst provides fiction lists by topic by age, including immigration–themed picture books.
Groundwood Books made a donation to IBBY to mark the publication of Two White Rabbits. To find out more about this not-for-profit organization that brings books and children together, click here. For a selection of other picture books exploring the theme of Latin American migration, click here.
Finally, for those looking to celebrate International Children’s Book Day, find ideas at Busyteacher.org, or read something by, or about, Hans Christian Andersen, whose birthday was 2 April 1805.
Why I Like this Book: “Haunting” and “understated” are two words that run through online reviews. I would agree. We never quite know where the young narrator and her father come from, to where they journey, nor even the reason for the journey. We do know they are alone, except for a stuffed rabbit, the coyote (chucho) that joins them early in the story and the two white rabbits, a gift from an unnamed boy. The girl also alludes to the difficulty of the journey, “’Where are we going?’ I ask sometimes, but no one answers.”
Much of the reality of the situation is revealed through the illustrations: a tent city along railroad tracks; people riding atop the trains; soldiers; a toy “train” with soldiers and riders atop the carriages; the two rabbits heading towards a fence – will they be able to find a way through?
The plight of migrants is a topic that many adults don’t understand let alone are able to explain to young children. This is a timely book that could help spur discussion on many levels.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!
I recently read this book in preparation for a multicultural children’s literature class I will be teaching. It does a great job bringing the migrant experience to young children. Great review!
Thank you! Are the other books you’re highlighting on your blog? I’d love to see the list.
This is my kind of story. I love that it is an immigration book that would help children understand what they see on TV or talk about people fleeing because of war. I want to check this one out. Great review.
Thank you! It never explains what the narrator & her father are fleeing, but there are plenty of illustration clues that would be great discussion prompts.
On my first reading I found this almost too intense, but it sure has stayed with me and I’ve had to read it again.
Agreed. I read it several times & then read reviews. Very intense!
This sounds powerful and I think it’s important for kids — and adults — to try to understand the plight of migrants. Great choice.
I’m getting this for our school library. Thank you!
You’ve made my day!
Definitely looking for this book! IT sounds intriguing.
Very intriguing. I read, and reread it!
Thanks for reminding me about IBD. I forgot! And great book suggestion. Thanks.
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