Friday, September 19, 2008

The Magic Rabbit: A Book Review

The Magic Rabbit
Author/Illustrator: Annette LeBlanc Cate

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Candlewick (August 28, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0763626724
ISBN-13: 978-0763626723

Ray is a street performing magician and his best friend is a rabbit. They live together. They do everything together. Ray and his best friend Bunny eat popcorn and watch TV. Bunny even sleeps in the magic hat on Ray’s bed. There couldn’t be any closer friends than Ray and Bunny.

Well you guessed it. Bunny is the rabbit that Ray pulls out of his top hat during their Saturday magic show downtown. One Saturday just as Ray was to say the magic word and wave his magic wand, Bunny was supposed to jump out in a spray of golden stars. A juggler crashed into Ray sending Bunny flying on the sidewalk when a pug dog spots him and begins to chase Bunny down the sidewalk into the busy street. Bunny makes it safely to the other side but now he is lost. Everywhere Bunny goes people walk along together and when evening comes everyone is going home to dinner. Bunny feels sad because no one seems to notice that he is lost.

I like the way LeBlanc Cate illustrated Bunny’s harrowing trip across the street. It is similar to a comic strip frame with captions under each picture. The black and white illustrations capture a cosmopolitan feel about city life and performing on the street. Tiny glittering gold stars are the only color in LeBlanc Cate’s black and white story. Gold stars and popcorn play a significant role uniting Ray and Bunny before the night is over with a touching reunion in the subway station. Friendship is serious business in LeBlanc Cate’s story and it may even suggest it to be a little magical.

This is a wonderful story between unlikely friends and business partners who cannot live happily ever after with out each other. When Bunny follows a popcorn trail he finds in the alley the reader is not told who or what put it there. The little bit of magic through the glittering stars hint that the reunion was not due to Bunny’s keen sense of direction. I guess it really doesn’t matter because Ray is a magician, after all.

Annette LeBlanc Cate studied at the Art Institute of Boston and was the art director for the animated television series DR. KATZ, PROFESSIONAL THERAPIST. She lives in Pepperell, Massachusetts.

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