As a pre-published picture book author, I seek out the newest releases at my local library and in bookstores. At every conference and in every webinar, we’re told to read, read, read, BUT only books published in the past few years, as the market constantly evolves and, for picture books especially, the optimum word counts change.
Every once in a while, though, an older book captures my interest, and I find that it could as easily have been published today as back in the day. I’m happy to feature one of these “oldies but still goodies” as a Perfect Picture Book.
Title: Blue Rabbit and Friends
Written & Illustrated By: Christopher Wormell
Publisher/date: Jonathon Cape Ltd/1999 (UK); Phyllis Fogelman Books (Penguin Books for Young Readers)/2000 (US)
Suitable for Ages: 4-8, or younger
Themes/Topics: home, trading, problem-solving
Opening: “Once there was a Blue Rabbit who lived in a cave in the middle of a dark forest.”
Brief Synopsis: Blue Rabbit decides he doesn’t like living in a cave in a dark forest and sets off to find a new home. He finds that Bear, Goose and Dog are also unhappy in their homes, and together, the animals reach a solution that suits everyone – with a twist.
Links to Resources:
- Draw your perfect home – what makes it perfect for you?
- Build your perfect home using found materials like empty boxes, old blankets, etc.
- Try block printing
Why I Like this Book: This is a simple story about finding one’s place in the world, exploring the concept of home – what makes one setting or dwelling perfect for one person (or animal) but not another. It’s also a terrific lesson in the power of group problem solving. With all of the text on the left side and the vibrant linoleum block print illustrations on the right, it’s also a lovely book to read aloud.
A Note about Craft: As noted above, Blue Rabbit and Friends is an older book, but for me, at least, its style and story still resonate. While its word count, around 600, is longer than the norm and while, arguably, some repetitive language could be cut, on the whole, the text does not seem too long.
In addition, Blue Rabbit has a problem, and it’s an age-old problem – he isn’t happy at home, something just isn’t right. Through the course of the book, he realizes he isn’t the only one with that problem; and he solves the problem on his own. The story then ends with a twist that could, and in fact did, lead to a sequel. To this reader, at least, Blue Rabbit and Friends seems just like the sort of well-executed picture book story line popular today.
Christopher Wormell is a prolific English illustrator, artist and children’s author. Check out his other books here.
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!