Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present Book Review
Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present
This is a children's book by the greatly popular children's book author Charlotte Zolotow and the inestimable Maurice Sendak (of Where the Wild Things Are fame).
It tells the simple tale of a little girl (who remains nameless throughout the book) and Mr. Rabbit. The little girls seeks out Mr. Rabbit for advice on what to get her mother for her birthday. Mr. Rabbit is resourceful in this prospect, ulitmately helping to resolve the conflict. True to the title, they create a lovely present for the little girl's mother.
This is a cute -and yes, lovely tale. It even tenders the nearly uncanny logic of many children's books, as where the wise rabbit explains that the girl cannot give her mother colors. For instance, where the little girls says,
"She likes red," said the little girl.
"Red," said Mr. Rabbit. "You can't give her red."
This continues with other colors, giving your readers exposure to such words, that they're left with a knowledge of much of the rainbow, as well as other words.
In another part of the work, in an almost risqué though truly innocent moment, Mr. Rabbit recommends "there's red underwear [to give her]." The little girl prudently rejects this offer.
The other striking aspect of this tale is Mr. Rabbit himself. The little girl is probably about 6 years old, and her rabbit companion is the same height as the girl -taller, if you include his rather pronounced ears. This is clearly Maurice Sendak as he was still getting his feet wet in illustration -yet elegant illustrations they are.
Mr. Rabbit and Lovely Present was the winner of A Caldecott Honor Book in 1963 and received an American Library Association notable book citation. Yet it's not the critics alone who approve of it; children from as young as 4 to about 8 years of age will easily enjoy this sweet, innocent, and simple story.