A rabbit stumbles into an unfamiliar world.
Rabbit Town has meadows, blue skies, and clear streams. It also has a bookstore, because “all rabbits loved books…except for Henry.” When Henry finds a Lost Book—it must be lost because it’s “not a rabbit book”—he doesn’t read it; instead he carries it through a tunnel under an ivy-covered wall and emerges into a gray cityscape with gray skyscrapers and a wide, paved, gray street. Bipedal rabbit Henry, in his backpack and hoodie, can’t identify the “creatures” in the lilac-gray city. They’re humans, and they’re enthralled with tech. On escalators, on the subway, even while walking, they stare at screens. Henry makes a friend there—a little white girl whose father is so riveted to his cellphone that he never sees Henry—and together they enjoy some nongray city spots: park, playground, pond, restaurant. Surnaite neatly sidesteps any obvious morals: The city holds warmth and connection after all, and Henry needn’t fall for books. The illustrations’ easygoing outlines and the touchably soft-textured colors that fill the spreads and sequential panels prevent the city atmosphere from ever feeling completely dystopic. A final metaquestion is clever and amusing but unobtrusive to readers who don’t want to tangle with it. Both families have one mom and one dad; the girl’s friend group is multiracial.
A fine addition to the meta-literature shelf. (Picture book. 3-6)