Exciting, fresh and fun quite aptly describe Jo Empson’s debut picture book, Rabbityness.
Rabbit likes doing quite ordinary things. Empson’s series of short sentences prefixed with ‘Rabbit liked …’ lead the reader through the first few pages. They are filled with the black rabbit set against green hues, and plenty of white space.
This leads wonderfully to the page that reveals the ‘unrabbity’ things this cheeky little animal also likes to indulge in.
A vibrant burst of colour and energy suddenly spreads through several pages. Empson uses it to reveal the wonderful painting and music that ‘made Rabbit VERY happy’ as he filled the ‘woods with colour and music.’
Picture books with a big reveal like this are superb for reading out loud; that collective gasp that it pulls from the captive audience is irreplaceable!
Rabbityness delicately relays the unexplained disappearance of rabbit, followed by the other rabbits confusion and sadness. When they discover rabbit’s gifts, at the bottom of his burrow, they discover plenty of wonderful ways to remember rabbit and feel happy again. *sigh*
Empson’s short sentences are magically crafted, their simplicity imbuing the narrative with calm and mindfulness. In just 32 pages Rabbityness gently ushers in a variety of layers embracing creativity, individualism, loss and happiness. Just wonderful.