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Rabbityness
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The inky black rabbit that stars in Empson's debut is, in many ways, typical of his kind. "Rabbit liked hopping. Rabbit liked jumping.... Rabbit like washing his ears," Empson writes, as Rabbit appears on patches of bright green turf studded with wildflowers. But there's more to Rabbit than meets the eye: he also likes doing "unrabbity" things, especially painting and making music. An explosion of color accompanies Rabbit's creative endeavors; splatters and splotches of magenta, blue, and fiery red paint burst across the forest landscape as Rabbit bounces across a spread holding a paintbrush. And Rabbit's music making is done with an elaborately decorated alpenhorn, a multitude of colorful musical notes comingling with loosely sketched trees. When Rabbit disappears, his fellow rabbits are bereft, and the "woods were quiet and gray." The paints, musical instruments, and artwork he leaves behind, however, help the rabbits move past the loss and discover their own creativity. It's a somber but encouraging metaphor for the void created by someone's departure or death-especially if that someone is the life of the party. Ages 4-8. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

K-Gr 3-In this deceptively simple tale, Rabbit likes hopping, jumping, twirling his whiskers, and washing his ears just like all rabbits, but he also enjoys unrabbity things. With paint brush held between his ears and another one between his paws, he leaves vibrant bursts of color in his wake. With his wonderful horn, he fills the air with music to the delight of wide-eyed birds. The other black rabbits share his happiness in a woods full of color and music, until one day Rabbit disappears. The gray woods are quiet, and Rabbit's dark hole beckons his sorrowing friends. In that deep, dim place they find Rabbit's legacy-paints and brushes and musical instruments. They think of him, and in time they, too, fill the world with color and music. Stunningly conceived, Epson's black rabbits cavort against white spaces, experience happiness as well as loss, and ultimately claim Rabbit's gifts. The mystery of his disappearance may speak to the sadness children feel when friends or family go away without explanation. Perhaps they will also find gifts left behind that will make their world a better place. This story will grow richer with each reading and will resonate in hearts and minds for years to come.-Mary Jean Smith, formerly at Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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