A spare text accompanies and somewhat overburdens an intriguing visual tale about art and imagination presented in vivid, warm, full-color, and full-page gouache paintings. The endpapers and opening pages show a collection of simple, childlike pictures of rabbits. The story then moves on to show the rabbit artist, a boy of about ten (his signature on his drawings indicates that his name is Luis), cuddling his bunny, now transformed into a winsome live creature, in a landscape of childlike drawings of flowers, grass, trees, and house. "If you were real, we could do lots of things together," the brief text begins. Then the boy and the "real" bunny are shown together over the next few pages and their actions described in several lines of text: playing in the yard, reading a book, gazing at the night sky, and cuddling quietly. "But if you were really real, what I would do . . . is let you go," concludes the narrator, somewhat startlingly, since the bunny has been up to now treated as a pet. By letting us into Luis's daydream where his drawing comes to life, George, a nature illustrator (Around the World: Who's Been Here?
, 1999, etc.) has attempted an interesting observation about the ways we can (and cannot) hold onto the things we create, but the result is somewhat muddled. The text seems to intrude, providing a narrative that might best be supplied by the reader. Luis looks a few years older than his rabbit-drawings might suggest. The lovely tactile bunny and handsome child will be enough for some readers; other children just learning to draw what they love may feel vaguely patronized by the mixture of childlike drawing and impressive "real" bunny and boy. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >