The Rabbit and the Shadow
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The Rabbit and the Shadow

Melanie Rutten, Frith Williams, Sarah Ardizzone

Enter the wonderful world of the following curious cast: the Rabbit who wants to grow up, the anxious Stag, the Soldier at war, the Cat and his recurring dream, the Book that wants to know everything, and the Shadow.

Over the course of ten short chapters they grow up, learn how to live together and to deal with their fears.


This is a quirky and highly original picture book for readers between five and eight. On the surface, it’s a gorgeous hardcover chapter book about a number of characters having adventures in the woods. But the story also works as a beautiful metaphor for the relationship between parent and child over a lifetime.

When the rabbit appears, Stag knows that he must look after this tiny, vulnerable creature. He loves Rabbit so very much, but he is also worried that Rabbit will someday leave him. They argue and, of course, Rabbit does run away to seek adventure. After a lonely night in the woods, Rabbit meets up with Soldier and then Cat. Soldier is very angry and wears a helmet to disguise his face, pointing a sword at anything that bothers him. The Cat has lost his ball. The new friends decide to go on a quest to climb to the top of the volcano. What happens at the top of the volcano and beyond is a revelation to them all.

Belgian author illustrator Mélanie Rutten has created an exquisite book with a decidedly European flavour that can be read on a number of levels. Each character makes a unique journey and each transformation is beautiful to observe and quite profound.

This is one of a number of very exciting picture books in translation that New Zealand publisher Book Island is producing.

Angela Crocombe is the Children’s Book Buyer at Readings Carlton.

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