The Rabbit, The Dark and the Biscuit Tin

Authored by Nicola O’Byrne
Illustrated by Nicola O'Byrne
Published by Nosy Crow

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The Rabbit, The Dark and the Biscuit Tin is about the overtired grumpy little critter that is a familiar character in many thousands of households across the country, as parents utter, “nearly bedtime little one” every evening. In this story, we meet grumbly Rabbit, who is “not tired” and does not “want to go to bed”! The reader is quickly made aware of Rabbit’s cunning plan as he reasons that if it does not get dark, he won’t have to go to bed… logical thinking, I hope you’ll agree. We are quickly swept along with the next stage of his plan – to catch the dark (in a biscuit tin). I can just see the aforementioned infants sneaking biscuit tins up to their bedrooms to try this plan out for themselves!

On reading this story to my class of 6-year-olds, comments were made about other stories where the dark has been personified and becomes a character in its own right. My class likened it to The Dark by Lemony Snicket and Orion and the Dark by Emma Yarlett. As with Lemony Snicket’s story, the dark talks but not does assume a form (other than reaching out a hand towards the biscuit tin). Snicket uses this technique to build suspense and indeed writes a very successful creepy narrative for younger children. In this story, and similarly, in Orion and the Dark, the dark takes on a caring almost parental role in guiding the protagonist to understand and untangle his feelings.

My class and I particularly enjoyed the exchanges between Rabbit, as he sits on the tin, and the dark, trapped inside it. The children understood and appreciated the humour citing the conversations as one of their favourite parts of the story. The humour in the text is emphasised by the beautifully executed facial expressions as Rabbit demonstrates his disapproval in the situation.

The book touches upon elements of the English National Curriculum for  KS1 science (classification of animals and plant growth) as Rabbit learns about a selection of British nocturnal animals who need the dark. He goes on to notice his carrots are beginning to wilt in the heat. Indeed, it is the realisation that he may lose his precious carrots that finally makes him decide to release the dark….

… Cue “ahhhs” and “ooohs” as you reveal a beautiful map fold of the night’s sky. After showing the illustration to my class the afternoon progressed in a frenzy of learning how to make map folds using black paper, researching craters on the moon and star constellations and drawing onto the paper using chalks.

A delightful and engaging picturebook, The Rabbit, The Dark and the Biscuit Tin encourages talk, learning and most importantly, laughter.