Wonder-Land: Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes
LITTLE WHITE RABBIT HOPPED ALONG.
WHEN HE HOPPED THROUGH THE GRASS, HE WONDERED WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE TO BE GREEN.
In a switcheroo on Alice, this white rabbit is the one who goes into wonder-land. In his imagination, Little White Rabbit becomef Little Green Rabbit to find out if it's easy being green. When he wonders about the tall fir trees, he grows until he's eyeball-to-eyeball with the birds soaring above the treetops.
He wonders at what a rock feels, and suddenly he is a stone statue of a little rabbit, solid and immobile, resting under the clouds, in the gentle rain, and sleeping into the silvery moonrise. But unlike Sylvester, this Little White Rabbit needs no magic pebble to restore himself in time to float and flutter with the butterflies.
But his idyll is broken by the appearance of a little black cat, and Little White Rabbit wonders no more, hopping home as fast as he can to hide in his mom's soft fur with his brothers and sisters.
HE DIDN'T WONDER WHO LOVED HIM.
A perfect companion piece to his Caldecott-winning Kitten's First Full Moon, Kevin Henke's newest, Little White Rabbit Greenwillow, 2011) is another of those picture books which catches those magical moments in which a young child, suddenly free of mom and his own backyard, lets his imagination run free, always knowing that there's a warm welcome and a kiss when he returns back to her safe and secure presence. Henke's artwork seems simple and spare, but with his broad line drawings, here appropriately outlined in a deep green, his soft vernal pastel palette and graceful curved lines charm the eye and suggest the cyclical line of the simple story, as his little hero shakes the bounds of home for a brief adventure into fantasy and returns, full circle, to where he, for now, belongs.
As the Washington Post's reviewer puts it most piquantly (and alliteratively), Kevin Henkes's Little White Rabbit is a paean to the power of the imagination, a pastel song of praise that evokes the same unfettered joy as his My Garden (2010) and A Good Day (2007)."