“No snacking!” written by Beth Ferry, illustrated by AN Kang (Roaring Brook Press, March 15) ages 4-7, 40 pages, $18.99.
In the spring, all rabbits in Arkansas literally take to gardening. Any gardening we establish, they take it straight. So, this beautifully illustrated word frolic comes at the right time for parents and grandparents gardeners who find themselves questioned by little descendants who do not understand our beef with rabbits.
“Do you hate the Easter Bunny too, Nana?”
We don’t have to hate them to oppose their agenda.
Readers meet a goat named Derwood as he plants his vegetable bed on a warm spring day. Derwood is the kind of anthropomorphic goat who gardens while wearing pince-nez, indicating that he is 1) myopic and 2) meticulous. He grabs what he thinks is a dandelion only to find himself holding a baby rabbit by the tail.
Tiny Tabitha introduces herself and asks if he grows vegetables. “I’m conducting a very scientific experiment on dirt,” he lies. “Very brown. Very boring.” Then he locks her out of his fenced garden.
A few weeks later, the plants are up and Tabitha is back – inside the fence. She strikes up a seemingly innocuous conversation in which her tendency to substitute vegetable names for subjects, verbs, and modifiers annoys Derwood.
Example: “Mom said I’ll be home soon.”
But she hops away.
At the end of summer, when the garden has become abundant, she returns as an adult rabbit. Once again, she nibbles at him with her sneaky word substitutions. But we realize that Derwood enjoys his company.
In this sweet fiction, reliability trumps suspicion and putative enemies become friends. It could happen in life too – if hungry bunnies could be trusted. Cute book.
Read Me is a weekly review of short books.