Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A sweet book for animal lovers - Emmaline and the Bunny, by Katherine Hannigan

All of us yearn for a friend, and I clearly remember a point in my childhood when my pets were my closest companions. I could tell them all my secrets, pour my heart out to them and they wouldn't tell a soul. There's a special magic in having such a pet. Emmaline, in the new short novel Emmaline and the Bunny, craves a bunny as her special friend. It's a lovely book - perfect for 1st through 3rd graders (or younger children as a read-aloud) who love animals.
Emmaline and the Bunny
written and illustrated by Katherine Hannigan
NY: Greenwillow Books, 2009.
ages 6 - 9
Emmaline and her family live in the town of Neatasapin, on Shipshape Street. The town mayor, Orson Oliphant, declares that "Tidy homes are spick-and-span sparkling! ... Tidy children are still, silent and spotless!" What is a child like Emmaline to do? She likes to dig in the dirt, hop in the puddles and shout, "Hoopalala!" and "Dinglederrydee!" when she's happy. Emmaline wants a friend, but she really wants a bunny "most mostly." She tries to be tidy like her parents ask her, so she can get a bunny - but when her parents take her to see the caged bunnies at the pet shop, she's despondent. She creates a burrow under the dining room table, decorating it with pictures of bunnies that can hop and scoot-skedaddled with her. And then she runs away, and discoveres the wild place - where a real bunny live, a real bunny that becomes her friend.

My daughters and I really enjoyed this quiet fantasy. It is filled with a love for children and a respect for their imaginations and their worlds. It sings of a love of nature in all its untidiness, and a need to have nature and animals in our lives. Katherine Hannigan's watercolors are full of a soft, bright joy. My fourth-grader and I loved Hannigan's novel Ida B., a realistic story of a girl dealing with her mother's battle with cancer, but this was completely new and different - a real treat.

This small delight is perfect as a read-aloud for kindergartners and first graders, or as an early chapter book for 2nd graders. Browse through the publisher's website below to read a few chapters and see the wonderful illustrations.

For some other reviews, look at:
The Kids Corner (listen to the great podcast)
Wrighty's Read
Patchwork of Books

Emmaline and the Bunny is available through your local independent bookstore, Amazon or your local public library.


  1. Nicely described! How about Blue Chip?

  2. I read this book to my 5 year old daughter around Easter and Earth Day. We really enjoyed it. And she made some wonderful observations about how we need plantlife to survive. However, I was a little creeped out by the old woman with the braid. She, or perhaps her braid, reminded me of the super weird skittles beard commercial.

  3. Hey, I'll be reading this one as a Newbery Contender. Are you reading from a list like that?