One Busy Bunny (Robie Rogge)

Hello, friends! Our book today is One Busy Bunny, written by Robie Rogge and illustrated by August Ro, a short novelty board book about a very busy little bunny.

Busy Bunny’s got one very important job to do today: to take a basket of eggs and distribute them to all of their friends. Bunny makes sure to give eggs to their friends at the pond, in the garden, and in the woods. And after a long and exhausting day, and with an empty basket in tow, Busy Bunny gets a special surprise all their own!

Short and sweet. The content of the story itself only takes place in five couplets spaced over ten pages, so this is a very quick read. The story is similarly light and airy, mostly just identifying the adorable animals that make up Bunny’s delivery route as they smile happily over their Easter eggs. This combined with the novelty of the bunny rabbit-shaped binding makes it best for very young audiences (though the light cardboard of the pages themselves may have trouble holding up to the rough treatment of baby bookworms). Ro’s soft and lovely illustrations are beautiful to look at (to the point that I wished they were a little larger!), and Rogge’s text is bouncy and fun to read aloud. Overall, this is a fun novelty title that doesn’t exactly reach for the stars, but offers plenty of enjoyment for the youngest of readers and their caregivers. Length was great for the earliest ages, and JJ really enjoyed the unique bunny rabbit binding. Overall, Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Hat Tricks (Satoshi Kitamura)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Hat Tricks by Satoshi Kitamura, a splendid tale of a talented magician and her surprising tricks.

What’s this? Why, it’s a black top hat, with two little pointed ears peeking out from inside. Surprise! It’s Hattie the bunny, prestidigitator extraordinaire! She’s about to put on a magic show that will shock and amaze, and the reader can help her perform her mystical tricks. All they have to say are the magic words: “Abracadabra, katakurico… what’s in the hat?” From there, the amazing Hattie will conjure all sorts of friends, from a frightened yellow cat to a massive moose, all from her seemingly bottomless hat. How can Hattie top herself for the grand finale? You’ll just have to wait and see…

Splendid. This whimsical tale features both a light, fun, and genuinely surprising story with charming illustrations and text that was made for reading aloud and audience participation. The chorus of the magic spell was particularly fun to say: a simple phrase for the youngest readers to mimic, and a nice twist on a familiar magical refrain. The animals are adorable and comical, particularly Hattie; I love that Kitamura did not feel the need to “feminize” her look. Hattie dresses in a simple magician’s costume of gold jacket and red bow tie with a magic wand, and her gender is only signified through use of pronouns; no long lashes, bows, or hourglass body shape. The length was perfect for a quick storytime, and JJ had an absolute blast with the playful comedy and characters. This is a great one, especially for group storytimes, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Bunn Bunns And The Helping Hands (Attila Krutilla)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Bunn Bunns And The Helping Hands by Attila Krutilla, a story about a wayward bunny.

Bunn Bunns is an adventurous young bunny who always seems to get into mischief. As he leaves his house one morning and heads down the path, his mother warns him: “Don’t get lost!”. Bunn Bunns is confident, however – he won’t get lost. Choosing to wander from the path, various other animals give him the same warning, but Bunn Bunns is unconcerned. Finally finding his way back to the path, he realizes that he is at an unfamiliar crossroads; he is, in fact, lost. Confused and frightened, he falls asleep under a tree, where the Girl with the Helping Hands, picks him up and takes him home. She tucks him into bed and leaves him with a snack and a helpful note, promising to designate the path home with bunny prints. When Bunn Bunns awakes the next morning, he is eager to return home – can he follow the girl’s instructions to find his way?

This was a bit of a mixed bag, mainly where the story is concerned. While the language reads and flows well enough (though the name “Bunn Bunns” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue), the plot lacks direction and urgency. Bunn Bunns disregards multiple warnings, wanders off, yet displays no agency in finding his way home. He is rescued by another character with whom he doesn’t interact directly, then follows a single bunny print and… is home. The end. He doesn’t even seem to have learned a lesson from this ordeal – he considers the experience an adventure and is excited to go “adventuring” again tomorrow. It sends a strange message to young readers: wandering away from parents and allowing strangers to bring you into their homes are decidedly inadvisable actions. Beyond that, the art is a bit juvenile and may not appeal to older readers, but younger readers will likely enjoy it – JJ gleefully pointed out bunnies, owls, and frogs to me – and the length is fine. This is a well-intentioned but uneven effort – worth a read perhaps, but definitely with a follow-up discussion on safety. Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the author in exchange for an honest review.)

The Rabbit Listened (Cori Doerrfeld)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld, a simple yet touching look at how we process grief – or can help others who are grieving – during difficult times.

Taylor has an idea. It’s big, it’s bold, it requires planning and hard work, but when it’s done? The most beautiful block tower imaginable… until a flock of birds swoops down and obliterates it. Taylor is heartbroken by the destruction, overcome with emotion. A chicken comes by, sympathizing with Taylor and suggesting they talk about it. But Taylor doesn’t want to talk yet, so the chicken leaves. On it goes, with a parade of animals offering their suggestions – raging like a bear, hiding like an ostrich, laughing like a hyena – but Taylor doesn’t want to do any of these things, so they all depart in turn. At last, a rabbit softly approaches, and just sits with Taylor, providing silent comfort and companionship. And when Taylor feels ready to talk, to rage, to laugh, to cry, and to start again, the rabbit does what any good friend would do: it listens.

Beautiful. Gentle art, a profound story, and immaculate attention to detail make this a standout. The message is phenomenal: it’s okay to process your grief or sadness in whatever way feels right to you, and that sometimes the best thing you can do as a friend is simply be there and listen. That Taylor is intentionally made gender-nonspecific in look, name, and pronouns, to allow a wide range of children to identify, is a wonderful touch. So too is the structure of the dialogue, which allows for different voices and moments of levity, making the lessons of the book entertaining to learn. The art is spare, classic, yet appropriately warm. The length is great and JJ loved it. This is a perfect addition to any bookshelf or classroom: a timeless lesson in empathy, and Baby Bookworm approved.

The Black Rabbit (Philippa Leathers)

Hello, friends! Today, we read The Black Rabbit by Philippa Leathers, a story about a bunny who faces an unusual foe.

White Rabbit is being followed! It seems that no matter where he turns, a great black bunny appears right behind him! It follows him across the fields and through the river, always just behind. Finally, when he retreats into the deep, dark woods (where no light shines), the shadowy figure no longer appears. However, White rabbit is faced with a new threat: a terrifying wolf! How will he escape? 

This is sort of an odd book, but I liked it. The Black Rabbit is (and this is made quite obvious) White Rabbit’s shadow, which reappears when the wolf chases him out of the dark forest, scaring the wolf away. However, by the end of the book, Rabbit never seems to realize this: he skips off “hand-in-hand” with the Black Rabbit, now seeing the entity as his friend and protector. On the face of it, it seems like a simple, if offbeat, story in which little readers can laugh at the rabbit’s nervousness, plus a nice happy ending to leave things on a high note. The art is adorable and just the right side of creepy when the story calls for it, and it makes the characters very endearing. The length is fine, and JJ enjoyed it okay. I think where I got stuck was the metaphor, if there is meant to be one. Does the shadow represent Rabbit’s inner strength, something he runs from until he needs it most, and it saves him? Is it about not judging based on appearance? Maybe I read to much into it, but it feels like there’s supposed to be a lesson, and I didn’t quite pick it up. Regardless, it was a fun read, and we’re calling it Baby Bookworm approved!