Petersen, creator of the Mouse Guard comic-book series and winner of an Eisner Award for Best Publication for Kids (2008), impresses with his picture-book debut about a bunny’s earnest quest for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for his wife.
It is Valentine’s Day, and Jasper has no gift for Lilly. He sets off in the snow searching for inspiration from his neighbors. Industrious porcupine children knit scarves for their mother, but Jasper just gets tangled up. Elegant Miriam the frog’s chocolate-covered flies won’t do, and neither will Everett the raccoon’s wilted flowers. When Teagan the fox invites Jasper in to “brainstorm by the fire,” he ends up “in the soup!” After escaping, poor Jasper is droopy-eared, wet, defeated. When he encounters Spalding the wise cardinal, he blurts out his worry and frustration at remaining empty-handed. “The cardinal looked thoughtful. ‘Hmm…. From where I sit, …you have given Lilly a wonderful gift already.’ ” The dramatic page-turn reveals Lilly outside their burrow looking down on the valley, where Jasper’s footprints from his long journey have traced a huge heart in the snow. Lush, detailed illustrations drawn in ink and then digitally colored enrich the cozy reading experience.
Superbly designed and executed with love; children of any age will appreciate the story’s message and celebrate Jasper’s quiet success. (Picture book. 4 & up)