Rita’s Rabbit is the debut picturebook from award-winning author and poet, Laura Mucha, and rising star illustrator, Hannah Peck. Rita really, really, really wants a rabbit! The opening spread confirms this with diary entries, a list of potential rabbit names, rabbit slippers and drawings that adorn Rita’s bedroom walls. Surely her birthday will bring the pet of her dreams Well, as we know, you don’t always get what you want and when Grandpa’s gift is opened there is no rabbit. Instead, a bearded dragon is revealed. This is perfectly told and illustrated as Rita’s attempt to hide her disappointment is quickly replaced by anger. Spike (the bearded dragon) is not even close to being a dragon and Rita plots to get rid of him.
When a little bunny does arrive, he doesn’t conform to Rita’s expectations.
What can Rita do about a rampaging bunny? Needless to say that Spike’s timely intervention convinces Rita that while he might not be fluffy or floppy, he has many other qualities that make him just right for Rita.
This is an excellent picturebook in so many ways. It gently explores themes such as being careful what you wish for and not judging by appearances are well worth further exploration. The writing is of the highest quality, as you would expect from such a well-respected and talented poet, and it reads aloud beautifully. I love the alliteration which is used to great effect to describe the two pets. Hannah Peck’s illustrations capture Rita’s changing emotions with subtlety and provide a rich context to discuss her feelings. This is a perfect story for Early Years and Infant classrooms. I’d be keen to read it aloud several times to savour the story before diving into some rich language exploration. There is potential to inspire writing in different forms – diary entries about pets the children want, lists of pet names, stories about getting a pet, missing posters for the rabbit. Children could make connections to times when they have wanted something and not got it or when they judged by appearances.
Laura Mucha has teamed up with Matt Goodfellow and Liz Brownlee to write Being Me, a collection of poems about thoughts, worries and feelings. Hannah Peck is the acclaimed illustrator of a range of books, including The Violet Veil Mysteries, Malice in Wonderland and My Butterfly Bouquet.
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