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Monday, February 16, 2015

The Flat Rabbit, written and illustrated by Bardur Oskarsson. Translated by Marita Thomsen. Owlkids, 2014. $17.95 ages 6 and up

"Good grief! Would you look at her!" said the rat when she spotted the rabbit. "Um ... yes. I was just wondering what she was doing there," replied the dog, a bit startled. It had been so quiet until the rat came along. "She is totally flat," said the rat."

Dealing quietly, yet profoundly, with death is the subject matter for this beautifully designed book. A dog walks nonchalantly along a city street, looking skyward with admiration. As he rounds a corner, he is surprised to see a rabbit splayed out on the road. A rat comes along and makes a remark about the flatness of the rabbit.

"Do you know her?"

"Well," said the dog. "I think she's from number
34. I've never talked to her, but I peed on the gate
a couple of times, so we've definitely met."

The two ponder the rabbit's plight and cannot think what to do with her. Off they go to the park to spend time in quiet contemplation. When dog finally has an idea, he shares it with the rat. They go back, and protectively peel the rabbit from the roadway, then work through the night to put their plan into action.

In the morning sun, we see that the rabbit has been meticulously taped to a brand new kite. Back to the park they go, with the kite in hand and their plan in place. As the work to get the kite airborne, we watch as well.

The watercolor illustrations are spare, but tell their story with the same simplicity and grace as do the words. The changing perspectives help us to see how tiny the animal protagonists are in terms of their world. The kite's-eye view presented to end the book leaves readers with a feeling of comfort and a need to talk.                                                                           

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