Saturday, 5 September 2009

The Rabbit Problem by Emily Gravett (and a lot of rabbits)

August 2009, MacMillan Children's Books
32 pages, Hardcover
Review copy

Clouds: 4/5
Pencils: 5/5
Smiles: 5/5
Yunaleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥♥+

As a lover of rabbits (known only as bunnies in my house), I had to pick this up. I had heard of the Fibonacci problem, but I never knew it was to do with rabbits. The book doesn't contain any maths (yay) although I'm sure if you wanted to follow the book in terms of the Fibonacci problem you could. This reviewer stays away from maths and isn't providing a link to the problem.

The overall story of The Rabbit Problem tells the year in the life of Lonely Rabbit. Lonely, in January, is alone. So he puts up an invitation for any rabbit to join him. He may meet Chalk Rabbit in February, but they are really cold. The rest of the year plots out the birth of their babies (and their babies' babies...), and all the problems that face rabbits who are stuck in one field. Hunger. Birds. Boredom. Life as a rabbit isn't easy.

This book is (for me) unusual. It isn't read left to right. Or even right to left. You have to turn the book around on its side to view it, as you would a calendar. This is where there are holes in the book on each page - a hole for a nail to hange the calendar on (I wouldn't recommend hanging it up unless the bottom of the book is balanced on something. I wouldn't want to be responsible for plaster coming off the wall).

The left page (top page) always features a picture of the field, and whatever the rabbits are doing. The second page is a calendar page of that particular month. Handwritten there is always an added word between The and Rabbit (full phrase: The Rabbit Problem). There are doodles and notes on the calendar itself, which are very entertaining (rabbit thermometer is hilarious). I laughed so much at this book. The cleverest parts are the little added booklets to each calendar:

  • January: A party invitation
  • February: Knitting guide and pattern (no, I haven't tried it out yet)
  • March: A baby book
  • April: no booklet - too wet.
  • May: Ration book - one of the items isn't what I'd call edible.
  • June: no booklet - rabbits are too busy chasing crows.
  • July: Rabbit Newspaper (called the Fibber - a lot of items have a Fibonacci theme)
  • August; too hot for a booklet
  • September: Carrot Cookbook
  • October: no booklet - but there is an exercise sheet
  • November: You can't see the calendar
  • December Nothing because the rabbits aren't there.
You turn over the page from December and have a large, 3D popout of the rabbits escaping the field (which had a sign up saying no rabbits may leave the field). At this stage of the year the rabbits see sense and defy authority.

A highly inventive, entertaining read. I'm pretty sure adults will appreciate more than younger readers. This book is staying with me forever.

Emily Gravett's website is here.

Liked this? Try Dogs, also by Emily Gravett.

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