A brilliant modern fable—eloquent, hopeful and heart-rending—about a rabbit family whose members cross the border in search of a better life, and each other.
Drought forces Papá Rabbit to leave for the great carrot and lettuce fields of the north, hoping to make money for his family. Years pass, but when he doesn’t arrive home on the appointed day, his eldest son, Pancho Rabbit, sets out to find him. Heading north, he meets a coyote who promises a shortcut in return for food. At each step of their treacherous journey, the coyote demands more food in exchange for Pancho’s safe passage. The food finally all gone, Pancho is about to be consumed when Papá Rabbit rescues him. Reunited, Pancho learns all the money Papá saved for the family was stolen by a crow gang. Pancho guides them home, but happiness is short-lived, as the family must decide who will—and how to—return north if the rains still refuse to come. Textured earth tones are digitally collaged to create Pancho’s world, where the river’s darkness and desert’s sweltering heat are inescapable. Geometric shapes define the characters’ faces, making them reminiscent of Aztec stone carvings. But Tonatiuh’s great strength is in the text. No word is wasted, as each emotion is clearly and poignantly expressed. The rabbits’ future is unknown, but their love and faith in each other sustains them through it all. Accessible for young readers, who may be drawn to it as they would a classic fable; perfect for mature readers and the classroom, where its layers of truth and meaning can be peeled back to be examined and discussed.
An incandescent, humane and terribly necessary addition to the immigrant-story shelf. (Picture book. 5-9)