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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny, written and illustrated by John Himmelman. Henry Holt and Company, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2014. $15.99 ages 6 and up

"Sherman saw that Isabel was still right behind him. He gave it all he had. When he reached the tree, he was running so fast, he ran a whole extra mile before he could stop. Finally, Isabel caught up. "Did you let me win?" asked Sherman. "I did at first," she said. "But as soon as you thought you could win, you won."

Isabel is a very accomplished young bunny, when it comes to martial arts. That is not all she is good at; in fact, she's very good at using the skills she is learning to make a difference in her world.

In a series of short stories that are just perfect for children wanting to read a chapter book, Isabel exhibits her smarts, her courage, her feelings for others to entertain and engage readers. Isabel is a problem solver, in the best sense of the word.

The stories presented have just the right amount of text, accompanied by action-filled, expressive images of all of the characters who make Isabel's days so interesting. Mr. Himmelman uses black lines to create his characters on a white backdrop, and adds dashes of red for Isabel's Gi and to keep young readers focused on the action contained in each story.

Each story has a very quiet ending that leaves us with something to think about before moving on to the next one, or to savor if we quietly consider each one on its own. The fact that the stories concern the martial arts will widen the audience, and the effective storytelling suggests to readers that being smart outweighs being strong, almost every time.

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