Emily Gravett's The Rabbit Problem is, like some of her other books, a bit of a concept book. But it offers a wealth of visual interest. The concept part is that The Rabbit Problem can be used as a calendar. There's even a hole drilled through the covers, and all of the pages, so that you can hang it up (sideways), and have a standard calendar configuration. Each page spread focuses on a different month.
Each month highlights a particular problem that rabbits face, from loneliness in January to cold in February, straight on through the end of the year (by which time loneliness is the least of the rabbits' problems). There's no narrative text, just various calendar entries, captions, post-its, and the like. It's more a book to experience than to read, exactly.
The Rabbit Problem was not available from either of my library systems, despite having been published last fall. Once I saw the book, I understood why my libraries had chosen not to stock it (or why it was already gone from the shelves). It's a lovely book, but it's filled with attachments. These, I think, would not stand up to library use. Nor would I let 18-month-old Baby Bookworm near this book any time soon. They're different from the flaps one sees in some books for babies. These are more like entire little paperback books (each only a few pages in length), inserted as supplemental material on various pages.
For example, March is "The Baby Rabbit Problem" month. Attached is a little "Bunny's First Month" scrapbook, complete with cover photo, ultrasound image, "Certificate of Births", photos and footprints, and a family tree. Another month features an attached Ration Book, and another a copy of "Fibonacci Field's Only Local Newspaper, The Fibber". These various attachments, along with the notes, callouts, and sketches on the calendar pages, promise hours of entertainment for young readers. Meanwhile, the primary illustrations (each month's picture, if you will), visually clue readers in to the real "rabbit problem" of exponential proliferation (with a wink, nod to the Fibonacci series).
Even the end pages are part of the game, with the inside front cover drawn like a series of notes on a chalkboard, and a rabbit hole through to the next page. The inside back cover is an elaborate popup picture (of many, many rabbits).
The Rabbit Problem is more a book to play with and pore over than a book that parents will be able to read aloud to their kids. I can't in good conscience recommend it for library purchase, since those attached booklets and things are just not robust. But for a six-year old who loves rabbits, or a seven-year old who is interested in numbers, or any kid old enough not to tear the book to shreds, and detail-oriented enough to appreciate it, The Rabbit Problem would be a delightful gift.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (@SimonKidsYA)
Publication Date: November 2, 2010
Source of Book: Cybils review copy from the publisher
Nominated for 2011 Cybils in Fiction Picture Books by: Mary Machado
© 2011 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).