A Small Surprise

A Small Surprise by Louise Yates.

A very small white rabbit heads to try to get a job with a circus of animals even though the advertisement says that they don’t want small animals.  The rabbit has trouble getting his clown nose on, can’t tie the clown shoes no matter how he tries, and can’t walk the length of the tightrope without stopping.  Even eating proves to be messy but when the rabbit gets into trouble, something incredible happens that just may keep it in the circus after all.

The illustrations here tell the bulk of the story.  The quizzical animals are large but not scary at all.  They help the small rabbit get dressed and root for the little one when walking the tightrope.  When the rabbit displays its talent, the book turns riotously funny complete with spitting.  I especially enjoy the giraffe who spends the entire book with a leafy twig hanging from her loopy tongue, watching everything unfold around her.  A book of few words, this book repeats the few it has for most of the book, saying “I am too small to…” again and again.  With such great illustrations, this is the perfect amount of text, offering up support for the pictures but allowing them to tell the real story.

With one large word in the entire book and lots of repetition, this one would be good for emergent readers but it is also perfect for sharing with groups of children who will love the sudden transformation of the small rabbit into a true clown and the laughter that that brings.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

This Little Bunny Can Bake

This Little Bunny Can Bake by Janet Stein

A group of animals begin their lessons at Chef George’s School of Dessertology.  The chef tries to start with more advanced concepts, but is forced to start with the very basics: pot, egg, stove, spoon.  The antics of the animals will have children in stitches.  Sharp-eyed children will notice that the pink bunny (the only animal in color) is hard at work and really cooking.  This is despite all of the noise, confusion and mess that the others are making.  By the end of the class, all of the animals have some sort of creation but none rival the cake of the pink bunny.

Stein has a flair for wordless humor with animals tossing eggs, weighing themselves instead of ingredients, cooking with shoes and socks as ingredients, and using pate as finger paints.  Her art is wonderfully busy, hectic but also clear and clean.  The ink drawings have a soft charcoal quality to them.  Each character has his or her own personality and approach to baking.  It is great fun to follow them from page to page until their baking is complete.  Each ends up with something that makes perfect sense.  The consistency and good humor of this title make it enjoyable to re-read too.

Great fun whether you enjoy baking or not.  This tasty book is appropriate for hungry 3-5 year olds.