Ages: Please read below
By Grégoire Solotareff
Farrar Straus & Giroux
The first time I saw this book, I immediately knew I had to own a copy. My discovery of this book was by chance; a customer had special ordered it from Books of Wonder. When that person never returned to purchase it, I happily bought it for myself. While this is a picture book, it’s not for the average picture book aged child. This delightfully bizarre story, originally published in France, is for slightly older or more sophisticated children: children with a finer understanding of the subtle nuances of dry humor.
The art is distinctly European. Grégoire Solotareff uses a limited palette—mostly yellow, red and blue—set against stark white backgrounds. The art is full of texture, adding liveliness to the scenery. Solotareff’s use of perspective highlights the diminutive size of Little Bunny.
The text is fairly simple, and not excessively long, giving the impression that this book would be appropriate for the two to five year old set, but the story is far more dark and sophisticated.
Little Bunny’s real name is Jack Carrot. Jack doesn’t like to be called Little Bunny and he can’t understand why grown-ups insist on referring to him by this made-up name. It doesn’t matter to him that it’s because grown-ups think he’s cute and cuddly, as his grandfather explains.
Jack wants to be taken seriously, and he wants to be called Jack! After hearing two bunnies his own age call him by the disgraceful nickname, he decides to reinvent himself with a new reputation that will be wholly incompatible with the moniker “Little Bunny.”
It starts out simply, with generally rude behavior; when given a piece of candy he would throw it on the ground and step on it. It quickly escalated to armed robbery.
“Jack had no use for the money. He only wanted to strike fear in the hearts of people and rabbits.”
Upon hearing the police sirens, Jack makes his escape. A long chase ensues and Jack is captured, after fainting in a snow bank, when the much larger police-wolf lunges for his ski. (One of the many funny quirks of this book is that Jack always travels on skis. No one else seems to, and it’s never mentioned, but it makes for a funny scene every time: a tiny bunny, with his large feet and tall ears, jetting around on skis.)
When Jack awoke and found he was in prison, he began to cry. His cellmate, Jim Radish, lifts his spirits. Jim, who is even smaller than Jack, is in for killing a hunter. Jack thinks that’s horrible, until Jim explains that it was a matter of life or death; if Jim hadn’t killed the hunter, the hunter would have killed him. Then Jim refers to Jack as little bunny and Jack sets him straight.
‘“Listen up! he said. If you call me ‘little bunny,’ I will call you sprout, and bunnies eat sprouts, you know.”’
The new friends can’t help but laugh; Jim and Jack understand each other and Jack has made his first-ever friend. Jim shares his plan to escape. Digging a tunnel—a rabbit specialty—the two reach the outside world and make a run for it.
They head straight to Jack’s grandfather for help. The old rabbit hides them in a secret burrow in the mountains. Along with the food, blankets, chocolate and chewing gum, he brings the evening paper. The headline gives Jack and Jim a good laugh.
“Great Escape of Two Little Bunnies”
Don’t Call Me Little Bunny is not for all children, as few picture books are, but those that will understand the offbeat humor will truly appreciate this odd and unusual gem.
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