After storytime, while the kids are industriously crafting a paper bag puppet or decorating a picture frame made out of a manila folder, parents often take the opportunity to ask questions of the children’s librarian. There are easy questions like “we’re going on a plane trip – do you have any picture books I could share with Amber?” and more difficult and subjective questions like “which local schools do you recommend?”
One of my favorite questions was “I’d like to start reading chapter books to my five-year-old. Do you have any good, not-too-long ones to recommend?” Emmaline and the Bunny would fit the bill perfectly. A somewhat loud and occasionally messy little girl who lives in a town so neat that normal kid and animal behavior is rather sternly frowned upon wants a bunny. Not a tame do-nothing bunny but a wild bunny that hops and digs. She finds a mysterious and magical bit of nature just outside her tidy town where such a bunny resides – but it’s not until her too neat but very loving parents unbend and let Emmaline turn their yard into an oasis of greenery that the bunny feels welcome and comes to visit.
The story is simple and sweet enough to appeal to most young kids, the soft watercolors by the author are childlike and charming (the bunny is adorable but Emmaline’s baby sibling does look like a cross between a piglet and a gnome), and there are enough eccentric exclamations and turns of phrase (“hoopalala!”) to make this a fun book to read aloud. The frequent use of “mostly” at the end of sentences feels a bit mannered or precious, but I suspect that most kids won’t find it irritating.
Verdict (as Library Journal would say) – an extremely appealing read-aloud for young kids or a read-alone for grades 1 – 2. This is an adorable book, mostly. (Oh, and it’s printed on recycled paper, too)