Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Rabbits in space: Jan Wahl (illustrations by Kimberly Schamber), Rabbits on Mars (Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books Inc., Lerner Publishing Group,

Apologies for my unexpected absence. Apart from the sheer time eater that is house moving, on Monday I had a rather serious accident. Details are at my LJ but the short form is that I stepped through a hole in the pavement and triggered massive whiplash. It's probable I won't be posting much until next week as I still can't sit up for long. This is why today's post is on a picture book. It's about my level just now.

Jan Wahl (illustrations by Kimberly Schamber), Rabbits on Mars (Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books Inc., Lerner Publishing Group, 2003)

Summary: a bunch of rabbits get tired of being chased over roads by dogs "You take your life in your paws", said Greenleaf "just to cross the road", and are finding carrots rather hard to get now everyone grows them under glass houses, so they build a rocket to take them to the moon, where they find giant carrots and moon-dogs. The moon-dogs want to playy and there are some rather disturbing scenes of them juggling with the rabbits and playing tennis with them (the rabbits are the balls). They teach the moon-dogs to dance and escape back to earth where "on Earth we can hide from dogs if we must".

The book, which is otherwise simply an anthropomorphic fantasy which teaches children that home is best, is saved by a number of factors. The illustrations are brilliant; the sections on building the rocket, on space flight and on the views from space are accurate and exciting "The crew sang songs to stay calm. Days grew into weeks, weeks into months. When they napped, they shared carrot dreams. Water was so scare they took sponge baths... Earth grew smaller... and smaller... and smaller." And the very last page:

Lying on his back, Peppercorn looked up into the sky and saw a cool blue star shining so brightly.
"I read that's Jupiter," said Peppercorn.
"I wonder what it's like there..."
But Ouzel and Greenleaf were fast asleep.

Rock on Rabbits!


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