A small group of anthropomorphized woodland creatures have a mild adventure and make a new friend (sort of) in this low-key tale.
Watts’ delicate illustrations offer glimpses of cozy burrows, cold, snowy vistas and portraits of charming creatures. Executed in what appears to be pen and colored pencil, they provide plenty to look at, including a variety of actions and characters not mentioned in the text. In one corner of a double-page spread, a small hedgehog runs away clutching a squash. On a different spread, two hedgehogs and three bunnies build a snowman while a mouse in a red hat skis by. Unfortunately, young listeners will likely feel that Watts’ narrative is not nearly as engaging as her pictures. The long, rambling story takes place over several seasons. The central section follows willful Little Jack Rabbit as he and two friends get stuck outside overnight by a snowstorm. The animals survive because the whistling wind blows down a scarecrow, and his coat covers them, keeping them warm. How intentional the scarecrow’s actions are is open to interpretation, though the final page implies that he is alive, alert and able to experience emotions.
Listeners who enjoy old-fashioned animal stories will appreciate Watts’ gentle, whimsical tone, pastoral setting and sweet conclusion, but for many, time spent poring over the pictures will be more rewarding—and enjoyable. (Picture book. 5-7)