A Taste for Rabbit

A Taste for Rabbit

4.0 5
by Linda Zuckerman

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In the tradition of WATERSHIP DOWN comes a brilliant novel about foxes, rabbits, and the cold calculation that leads to war.

Imagine a world in which there are no people, but foxes are civilized. They wear clothes, they fight, they elect corrupt officials. They eat all kinds of things, but only lower orders with limited brainpower. Like mice. Or rabbits.

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In the tradition of WATERSHIP DOWN comes a brilliant novel about foxes, rabbits, and the cold calculation that leads to war.

Imagine a world in which there are no people, but foxes are civilized. They wear clothes, they fight, they elect corrupt officials. They eat all kinds of things, but only lower orders with limited brainpower. Like mice. Or rabbits.
Now imagine that one day the rabbits disappear, and slowly develop their OWN society away from the foxes. What happens when the two societies once again collide? A TASTE FOR RABBIT is a brilliant, piercing look at Harry the Fox, Quentin the Rabbit, the price of honor, and the "animal" parts of human nature.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Don't let the title fool you: veteran book editor Zuckerman's debut novel isn't a wild game cookbook but an allegorical exploration of the primitive elements of human nature and society, à la Richard Adams's classic Watership Down. Set in a realm devastated by an unusually harsh winter, an ensemble cast of anthropomorphic characters-Harry the Fox, Quentin the Rabbit, a weasel named Gerard, etc.-struggle for survival while dealing with individual hardships. Harry, virtually penniless and starving in his apartment in Foxboro, accepts his unscrupulous brother's offer of a lucrative but dangerous job investigating the disappearance of four fox scouts in the Wildwood Forest. Quentin, a student living in the rabbit warren of Stonehaven, must escape the repression and brutalization of an increasingly dictatorial government. Brought together by fate-and desperation-the unlikely duo of predator and prey uncover an abhorrent conspiracy in the depths of the forest. But can an impoverished fox and a timid rabbit stop a gang of morally corrupt murderers? The blend of adventure, mystery and morality in this heroic tale of honor and friendship will appeal to middle-school fantasy fans, especially fans of Brian Jacques's Redwall saga. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
VOYA - Jenny Ingram
Harry the Fox and Quentin the Rabbit, each struggling with insecurity, overcome their childhood aggressors, who have joined forces to form an illegal trade in rabbit meat, in this novel set in the animal world. Working independently in the forest, Harry and Quentin meet, and with the help of other rabbits, a badger, and some raccoons, they discover the sad fate of rabbit families disappearing from the nearby rabbit colony and work to end it. The rabbits and the foxes learn about each other, discovering that each group is educated and able to communicate and opening the way to a more peaceful society where rabbits are no longer the prey of foxes. Both Harry and Quentin realize a sense of personal responsibility and adventure, which they ponder at the end of the story, wondering what their next actions in life should be. This tale is a mix of fable and violence, reflecting the combined settings of nature and civilization in which Zuckerman's story takes place. Quentin and his friends kill the corrupt rabbits, reflect on their actions, and decide that they were justifiably necessary. Harry kills mice and voles for food, because the animal world's code of honor allows it and because they are not sentient beings. The rabbit colony, living in fear, restricts personal freedoms, only to have corruption develop from within. Zuckerman's audience is unclear; younger teens might want to read a book with animals as characters, but they might not understand her message about society.
VOYA - Kristen Moreland
Zuckerman crafts an elaborate animal society complete with small, realistic details, but despite the complexity, some readers may be reluctant to buy fully into the world of rabbits, foxes, and badgers. The author's colorful choice of words provides a solid and descriptive narration that serves as a backdrop for the sometimes far-fetched story. Although not hooked immediately, readers will be drawn slowly into this story and by the end care deeply for its woodland characters.
Children's Literature - Phyllis Kennemer
Two parallel stories feature towns inhabited by civilized foxes and rabbits. Both populations exhibit human characteristics almost exclusively. Harsh winter weather plagues the entire area, causing many animals to suffer hunger and even starvation. The first chapter introduces Harry the fox. Harry resents his devious younger brother, who has become Managing Director of Foxboro, but he has nothing to eat and no money, so when Isaac makes him a lucrative offer, he agrees to travel through the wilderness to find a rumored rabbit warren. The next chapter introduces Quentin the rabbit and his friends in Stonehaven. They live in fear of their own army, which has drafted them to serve on dangerous guard duty, is strictly enforcing curfews, and may be responsible for the increasing numbers of rabbits who are mysteriously disappearing. Isaac's dastardly agreement with some of the rabbits' army officers is eventually revealed as the story alternates between settings. Part of the plot seems to hinge on the distinction between sentient and nonsentient animals. It is okay for Harry to kill and eat mice and voles (breaking their necks and savoring the taste of warm blood in his mouth), but he must not eat rats, weasels, or raccoons who dress in clothing and carry on with human activities as he does. Discovering a community of sentient rabbits surprises Harry as this was a species previously considered as prey. The audience for this book is not clear. Although all of the characters are animals, they are all adults and none are endearing. The extreme cruelty with scenes of beatings and murders are too graphic for young readers, and the complicated plot may have limited appeal for teenagers. Reviewer:Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up Zuckerman has created a world in which animals have become "civilized" and a distinct line is drawn between sentient beings and prey. The separate existences of Harry the fox and Quentin the rabbit collide when corrupt rabbits begin killing and selling their own kind to foxes. It is a harsh winter and the rabbits have built a secure fortress; the foxes are running out of food. Harry is sent by his brother, a powerful official, to investigate the rabbit fortress. On the way, he grudgingly befriends a weasel, Elton, whose reticence and integrity endear him to both Harry and to readers. Meanwhile, Quentin and his friends, fearing conscription, escape from the fortress to join the rebels. Harry and Quentin meet after experiencing hunger, betrayal, and violence. Concepts such as justice, bravery, totalitarianism, religion, friendship, and law saturate this fable. The thought-provoking discussion is at times fleeting, perhaps because the concepts addressed are so numerous. The animals are thoroughly anthropomorphized, (they have schools, religion, and they smoke and drink). When apparent, their animalism is somewhat shocking. For example, Harry devours a family of vole, "snapping their spines, then, holding the babies by their tales, biting off their heads." The language is eloquent and, at times, humorous. The plot moves steadily forward, effectively maintaining suspense through the use of the two converging story lines. Harry, Quentin, and their friends, never simple or two-dimensional, are permanently changed from the violence, oppression, and desperation they experience. For those who survive, some return home and some cannot bear to face the prospect.-Amy J. Chow, New YorkPublic Library

Kirkus Reviews
This uneven allegory will have a difficult time finding an audience. Two societies of polytheistic, sentient, clothed adult animals are suffering the effects of a harsh winter. Quentin is a scholarly rabbit who lives under stringent military laws. Families of rabbits are disappearing, and he and his friends believe the government may be behind it. Harry, a fox, is living in poverty until his rich, cruel younger brother Isaac makes him an offer: If Harry can find out why Isaac's scouts are not returning from their missions to the fortress protecting the rabbit warren, Isaac will pay him generously. Along the way, Quentin and Harry both learn the truth behind the other's deeply corrupt yet intelligent world. In their travels, Harry and Quentin are both helped in their search for the truth by neutral animals like badgers and raccoons, but although their stories intertwine, they only briefly converge. Disguising human nature behind animals works in picture books, but the tween and teen target audience of this book will probably not want to read a book about talking animals, especially talking animals who are parents and business owners rather than teens. The frustrating lack of closure begs for a sequel. (Fiction. 10-14)

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)
730L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Linda Zuckerman worked as a children's book editor for more than thirty-five years, and edited three Caldecott Medal books and two Newbery Honors. I Will Hold You 'Til You Sleep is her first work as an author. Ms. Zuckerman livs in Tigard, Oregon.

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