In trembling anticpation, a boy tramps through snowy woods and February cold. He carries a wooden box, a carrot and a long stick from which dangles a string. He plans to become a hunter like the older boys. But when he snares a starving rabbit, unexpected reactions crowd out the hunter's instinct. This picture book speaks in the prosaic voice of the newspaper column that gave rise to it (Easterling writes a daily column for the Huntsville Times in Alabama). However, the honest, believable details vanquish sentimentality. Owens's (A Caribou Alphabet; Counting Cranes) watercolor paintings masterfully articulate the forms and spirit of the wintry setting rather than the facial landscape of the boy's emotions. But her illustrations-framed by pines laden with heavy snow and weightless chickadees-gain a subtle intimacy through perspectives held in the embrace of nature. Ages 3-8. (Oct.)
- Meredith E. Kiger
A beautifully written story that tells of a young boy's emotional dilemma on his first attempt at trapping a wild animal. Accompanied by lovely watercolor illustrations of the New England countryside in winter, the story reveals the boy's excitement at trapping a wild rabbit. When he lifts the box to view his prize, he is face to face with the starving animal, motionless in fear. Overcome by his connectedness to nature he watches in wonder as the rabbit feeds on the bait and then he allows her to hop away. Contented and renewed, he heads for home with a new appreciation for life.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-A fine story that will touch the hearts of many readers. For a week, a boy has studied the traps of the older children, and now he is ready to be a hunter. The waiting is hard, but study and patience pay off when a white rabbit nibbles at his carrot and he yanks the string on his box trap. When he carefully lifts the box, he finds a dying rabbit, frozen in fear and near starvation. In sympathy, he gives the carrot to the animal and sets it free. Without sentimentality, Easterling conveys a strong message about human kindness for the creatures with which we share the Earth. Like the boy, readers will not regret the prize lost but rather celebrate the hope that is offered. Owens's elegant watercolors convey all the beauty of a New England winter landscape. Readers may be shocked by the gaunt-looking rabbit, but the artist echoes the hope in the text by slightly filling it out-its ribs are no longer visible even as it begins to nibble on the child's carrot. Young listeners and readers will thrill to the boy's adventure and feel for the hungry rabbit. Teamed with Lynd Ward's The Biggest Bear (Houghton, 1952), this title sends a powerful message without preaching.-Jeanne Marie Clancy, Upper Merion Township Library, King of Prussia, PA
Handsome watercolors illustrate a clearly focused story about a would-be great hunter. The story begins as a boy goes out into the winter woods that surround his house. He is armed with a carrot and a box. Like the older boys, he hopes to catch a rabbit. He does. But when he gets close, he realizes that the animal is starving. He leaves empty-handed, with the promise that "I'll bring it some bread tomorrow." The tone of the lyrical text is detached enough to keep it from becoming a sermon. Instead, listeners are left with room to ponder the child's compassionate act. The evocative illustrations by Owens, an Audubon winter-walks guide, are clean, cool, and distinctively lined.