[Review Copy Courtesy of Candied Plums ]
Little Rabbit’s Questions — with its black-and-white ink illustrations and elegant touches of blues, reds, and yellows — is a stunning picture book with new takes on classic themes of growing up and a mother’s love for her child.
One day while Mama Rabbit and her child, Little Rabbit, are outside, Little Rabbit begins to ask questions. “Why are your eyes so big? Why are your ears so long? Why does your nose twitch? Why are your legs so strong?”
Mama Rabbit has an answer for each question and they all relate back to Little Rabbit. She has these features, she tells Little Rabbit, because one day Little Rabbit will grow up and go away — like all rabbits do — and Mama Rabbit will miss her child and want to find some way to see them again.
Little Rabbit has more questions about why there are big rabbits and why there are little rabbits, and Mama Rabbit responds the best she can while getting Little Rabbit ready for bed. Finally, she patiently tells Little Rabbit that it is time for them to be a quiet rabbit. Little Rabbit snuggles in and sweetly says, “Mama, it is so great to be with you!”
I’m impressed by how accurately and astutely Dayong Gan captures the banter between a mother and her child. I’m also impressed with how well the book is translated. The questions Little Rabbit asks, the way Mama Rabbit answers, and the logical flow of the questions being related, but not exactly sequential, are all so elegantly done.
Little Rabbit’s Questions has a universal and timeless feel to it. The illustrations, done in Chinese ink wash painting, are incredible. My experience with ink wash painting is that it is extraordinarily tedious, takes a lot of patience, slowness, and precision. You cannot be in a hurry or think about anything else at all — or it’ll be a complete disaster.
I found this to be a perfect medium to tell this story and a perfect parallel to what it is like being a parent — it can be extraordinarily tedious, requires an incredible amount of patience, and hurrying often results in a meltdown and some level of disaster. And it’s also incredible how different the final look of the painting with how it feels while you’re doing it. You don’t know how it will turn out until the end — just like parenting. It’s a wonderful metaphor for parenting that adults will appreciate.
The illustrations and the use of blues and grays reflect the sort of bittersweetness it is in having your children grow up. The children love the rabbits and the clear, beautiful images. It’s fun to watch how excited they get while reading it, and how much they enjoy some of the sweeter, sillier details in the book.
On most of the pages, there is a tiny illustration of a mother ladybug and her children going through their own story. This story within a story reflects the struggles between parents and children with humor and honesty and adds just enough laughs that it lightens the book’s sweetness — preventing it from becoming a sappy or syrupy experience. Both parents and children will smile as they recognize themselves.
The book’s format is very intelligent and makes it accessible to all levels of Mandarin learners. You do not have to know any Chinese to love this book. You can go to the back and read the English with smaller corresponding images to understand the story. You can then read the book from cover to cover and enjoy the beautiful artwork.
The Mandarin is in simplified format and there is pinyin with tones above each character. The words are at an elementary level. (My second-grader can read and understand most of the characters.) There are also 13 words and phrases in the back glossary with characters, pinyin, and English translations provided. There are also directions to visit Candied Plum’s website for more language learning resources.
Little Rabbit’s Questions is such a lovely and beautiful picture book to share with the children in your life. It’s joyful and happy and gives you a certain comfort knowing that children all around the world are asking their parents the same questions that yours are asking you.
While we may literally be half a world away from one another, from different cultures, and speaking different languages, Little Rabbit’s Questions shows us how in some of the most important ways, we are very much alike.
Recommended Ages 3 to 8. Candied Plums. March 2017. 48 pages. ISBN: 978-1945295126 Fiction.
Where to Get it:
- [Affiliate Link]: Amazon.com
- [My Favorite Bookstore]: Addendum Books
- [Library]: Worldcat.org
- [Online Retail]: Target.com – (This was a pleasant surprise!)
Author and Artist Websites:
- Outside In World
- A Fuse #8 Production – she mentions them in several places
- Youth Services Book Review
Where Obtained: I received a review copy from the publisher. No other compensation was received. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
FTC Disclosures: Some of the links in the post above are Amazon affiliate links and others are IndieBound affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase something, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Which goes to fund my family’s picture book habit. It’s a vicious cycle, but we manage. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”