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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Rabbit Problem, written and illustrated by Emily Gravett. Macmillan, H B Fenn, 2009. $19.99 ages 4 and up

"Foods I love

carrot cake
carrot soup
Steamed carrots
boiled carrots
Fresh raw crunchy carrots"

There is definitely a problem here and we are faced with it on the front endpapers, where five bunnies sit contemplating the blackboard. If newborn rabbits are fully grown at one month and able to be parents at two months, how many pairs will there be at the end of the month, or at the end of a year?

The sign on the fence calls it 'Fibonacci's Field' and states that the population is 1. It's January and that solemn and solitary bunny issues an invitation to another bunny for friendship and an end to the loneliness. In February the temperature takes a big dip and 'snuggling up' seems the best way to keep warm. It's much too cold to knit. In March, the lonely and cold rabbit problem has become one of babies...a new pair. The calendar sports a name chart, and a growing list of responsibilities for the new parents. A birth announcement is attached, with names, photos and the family 'carrot' to show lineage.

With each new month comes new hilarity in the burgeoning growth of the rabbit population. April brings much rain and more rabbits. May sports a ration book, with coupons to use to provide for each new addition and an order form for seeds for planting. The seeds arrive and the family grows in June. July brings boredom and a local newspaper offering news, birth announcements, weather reports and the birth rate dilemma. On we go through the months, with growing numbers and an explosion in carrot production.

December brings a solution with a sign change and an exodus from Fibonacci's Field. Whew!

There are books that delight and this is one of them! As you share it, you will find that you and your listeners (and they need to be close to see all there is to see) are poring over each turn of the calendar and astounded at the plight of the many rabbits who inhabit the field. Younger children will love the sharing and the talk, while older readers will have a heyday on their own!

If you have not seen Emily Gravett's work, please run (yes, run) to the library, or your nearest bookstore, and check her out. Her artwork is stunning, the premise for her storytelling is so original and entertaining and you will have found new favorites to read repeatedly. Watch the expressions, check out the many details and glory in the experience. It is worth every minute spent!

Get stacking up those Christmas gifts!

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