Friday 22 January 2016

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 22nd January 2016 - Rabbit and Bear Book 1: Rabbit's Bad Habits by Julian Gough and Jim Field (Hodder Children's Books)

When a book features an endorsement by none other than Neil Gaiman on its cover, you know you're in for a treat. Meet Rabbit and Bear in their first adventure, and a corking book of the week to boot!
Middle graders like Charlotte need books like this. When we cast our eyes over the upcoming releases from publishers, we're often a bit dismayed that there are very few 'bridging the gap' books that serve up a ton of illustrations (like a great picture book) but are slightly more wordy (like a great chapter book). Most of the time, age ratings seem to uncomfortably skip over stuff for 8 year olds but thank goodness for this one, Rabbit and Bear!

For starters, Neil Gaiman is not wrong - this is one of the funniest books we've read in ages. I'm not talking about the odd snort here and there, but full-on belly laughs because it performs a very neat trick indeed - it has humour in it that kids will instantly find appealing but also a ton of laughs for adults that will sail right over the kids' heads. Oh YES do I love it when that happens!

One winter, Bear accidentally wakes up from hibernation a bit early. Bear is one of those lovely souls who always sees the positives in everything, and decides to see who else is around for fun and frolicks. Unfortunately in Bear's fledgeling attempts to build a snowman she inadvertently blocks up the entrance to Rabbit's home.

Rabbit is - unfortunately - NOT one of those happy souls who thinks everything is awesome. In fact Rabbit is an absolutely fantastic character. Equal parts surly, grumpy and utterly and completely hilarious! Thus begins a beautiful 'friendship' of sorts, a cultural exchange if you like where Bear learns that Rabbit really does have some rather disgusting habits ("You eat your own WHAT?") and Rabbit discovers that Bear can be a bit irritatingly positive ("You do WHAT in the woods?")

Friendly competition and some wintry danger are afoot as Rabbit and Bear discover that making a snowman might be fun, but competing to make the BEST snowman might be even better. In the end though, having a friend - even a slightly surly one or an irritatingly chipper one - is the best of all!

This is book 1 in a series that, if there's any justice in the world, deserves to become phenomenally huge. Fabulous writing, utterly glorious artwork and if we sound just a teeny bit gushy about this one don't take our word for it, ask Mr Gaiman, he knows his stuff after all!

Charlotte's favourite bit: Rabbit throws the most awesome tantrums, love it!

Daddy's favourite bit: So many knowingly grown-up bits of humour in this that work so well but be prepared to answer awkward questions about rabbit biology, mums and dads!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Hodder Children's Books)

"Rabbit and Bear Book 1: Rabbit's Bad Habits"

Written by Julian Gough

Illustrated by Jim Field

Published by Hodder Children's Books

Publication Date: 14th January 2016