Children's Literature - Leslie Verzi Julian
The growl of bulldozers chases her jackrabbit family far into the woods, leaving the littlest, Jackie, trembling and alone. A neighbor woman saves her. A mysterious warmth fills her life through her younger days-the love of a human family who offers her milk, berries and, her favorite, bananas. When she is grown, though, something inside begins pulling her back to the wilderness. The woman lovingly releases her to find a family of her own. The beauty and grace of the jackrabbit is captured through soft illustrations and words to remind us of the price of progress.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 3London captures the hearts of young readers as he relates how a little, lost jackrabbit is rescued by a woman and eventually released back into the wild. The author's staccato sentences create suspense-"There's something behind her-yellow eyes in the dark... A dog barks. A light flashes. Jackrabbit freezes"-and establish the story's emotional pitch. Ray's pastel tones of brown and orange complement the sensitivity of the narrative. The woman's family cares for "Jackie" until she's ready to go "running with the wind, racing cloud shadows and leaping like a jackrabbitlike the jackrabbit she is." This story offers a springboard for class discussions on the environment, wildlife, natural habitats, self-esteem, and personal identity. Jackrabbit will bound from the shelves and find a safe and loving haven with audiences everywhere.Patricia Mahoney Brown, Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, Kenmore, NY
When bulldozers arrive to begin developing the orchard land around a baby jackrabbit's nest, her mother and siblings flee. The runt of the litter, she is too small to keep up, so the frightened creature hides in a hole until she is rescued by a woman who lives nearby. The woman and her family feed and care for Jackie, as they name her, allowing her to explore their home and yard as she grows. Finally, the woman reintroduces an adult Jackie into the wild, where she successfully mates and begins a family of her own. The story (based on a true incident) is told in a direct way that allows young readers to experience the animal's plight. Ray's soft, pastel illustrations also emphasize the hare and her natural surroundings. A good choice for spring story hours, this may also spark discussions about loss of habitats and the merits of keeping wild animals as pets.
London adds to his works about wild creatures (Master Elk and the Mountain Lion and Honey Paw and Lightfoot, both 1995; Condor's Egg, 1994) with this poetically written book based, once again, on a true experience. A young female jackrabbit is orphaned when her orchard home is bulldozed. "Jackie" is rescued by a kindly woman who tearfully returns her to the wild when the jackrabbit is able to fend for herself. Weeks later, the woman and Jackie encounter each other one last time; after a moment of frozen indecision, Jackie bounds away after her mate. At story's end, she is ensconced in a nest with babies of her own, but sometimes dreams of her life with humans.
This gratifying story allows children to empathize with both the rabbit and her benefactor; it's an exemplary treatment of the theme of care and respect for wild creatures. Tawny shades of gold and orange predominate in Ray's sun-baked illustrations; children will exclaim over the spread showing Jackie in midair "flowing with the grasses, running with the wind, racing cloud shadows." Included is a photo of the jackrabbit that inspired the piece.