A collection of short stories about a friendship between a fox and a rabbit.
Young readers can take these bedtime entries singly or a few at a time, depending on evening energy. Friendship stories in the tradition of Frog and Toad or Elephant and Piggie are perennial favorites; however, the personalities here aren’t as distinct or as humorously juxtaposed as in the former two pairs. Simple chapter titles (“First Story”) are refreshingly clear if unusually nondescriptive; oddly, the conspicuously flagged “half” story—the “Eighth Story (and a Half)”—is not distinguished in any obvious way, including brevity. Story quality is uneven; several in which Fox and Rabbit can’t fall asleep truly engage. The first one, though, carries a whiff of stereotype reinforcement when Fox, covered inadvertently in chimney dust, is mistaken “for the wolf in the leather jacket” and assumed to be a threat due to his coal color. Wolf’s aggressive response to a perceived insult may be the “half” story; if so, it’s a jarring addition. Watercolors in earthy tan, green, aqua, and gray, outlined in scratchy black, fit the rustic setting. Full-color pictures—some spot, others full-page—add interest; white space, some relatively text-heavy pages, and a trim size smaller than a traditional picture book signal suitability for emerging independent readers.
The design and premise are appealing, but the overall execution doesn’t measure up. (Fiction. 5-9)