Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Review - The Rabbit Listened

The Rabbit Listened
by Cori Doerrfeld
Date: 2018
Publisher: Dial Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: library

A universal, deeply moving exploration of grief and empathy

With its spare, poignant text and irresistibly sweet illustrations, The Rabbit Listened is a tender meditation on loss.

When something terrible happens, Taylor doesn't know where to turn. All the animals are sure they have the answer. The chicken wants to talk it out, but Taylor doesn't feel like chatting. The bear thinks Taylor should get angry, but that's not quite right either. One by one, the animals try to tell Taylor how to process this loss, and one by one they fail. Then the rabbit arrives. All the rabbit does is listen, which is just what Taylor needs.

Whether read in the wake of tragedy or as a primer for comforting others, this is a deeply moving and unforgettable story sure to soothe heartache of all sizes.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is a deceptively simple book about allowing people to deal with loss in their own way. As the story shows, it's not up to the other animals to try to fix Taylor's problem. All the kid really needs is someone to listen to them, and they eventually deal with the loss on their own terms.

The "terrible" thing might not seem so terrible to adult readers, but it could be devastating for a child. As each of the animals tries to help Taylor, they're turned away. Taylor doesn't want to talk or get angry or immediately fix the problem. They need time to feel their feelings, and that's exactly what the rabbit eventually gives them. The illustrations are so cute at that point, with the rabbit snuggling up to the kid, letting them know that they're not alone. And then, the rabbit listens, because Taylor is finally ready to express themselves. (You'll notice that I'm not using gendered pronouns. Taylor's gender isn't specified, and the way they're drawn, it could be either way, making the book relatable for boys and girls--or even non-binary kids.)

This book is simple yet deep, with adorable illustrations and a great message about just being there for someone... even if all you're doing is sitting beside them and listening quietly. It far surpasses some of the more overt "issues" picture books I've read for kids, and I'd definitely recommend it for children, as well as for anyone who'd like to know how to help a friend who's suffered a loss.

Quotable moment:

Premise: 5/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 5/5

Overall: 4.5 out of 5

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