by & illustrated by
Age Range: 3 - 8
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This first solo outing by the illustrator of The Wrong Overcoat (2000) is a wry tale with a familiar ring. When Aunty Ethel knits a new wool sweater for her, Rabbit staunchly refuses to wear it because Mr. Cuddles, her constant companion, doesn't have a matching one. Overruled by her pragmatic mother—“Mr. Cuddles doesn't need a woolly sweater . . . He has you to keep him warm”—Rabbit reluctantly dons the offending garment for her jaunt to the park. Yet with a wily determination, Rabbit finds a way to foil her mother's edict. As soon as she reaches the park, the sweater is abandoned, left on the ground to be trod upon and used as a soccer goal. Once home, Rabbit's mother immediately washes the muddied garment, with the inevitable results. Rabbit's once large sweater emerges from the wash small enough to fit her pint-sized pal—and with the capriciousness of youth—Rabbit decides she wants a sweater just like Mr. Cuddles'. Although parents may grimace at Rabbit's machinations, Birchall's simple tale resonates with young readers, who will recognize a kindred spirit in the mischievous Rabbit. For the real fun, Birchall's puckish illustrations, filled with messy details, steal the show. Rendered in a sparkling palette of hues, the playful watercolors contain a plethora of jokes designed to captivate and titillate young audiences: Mole's father dropping his ice cream on the sweater; Rabbit performing an awe-inspiring header that sends the mud-encased soccer ball straight into the sweater "goal." While perhaps not the most mannerly of stories, Birchall's delightfully naughty tale is good, er, clean fun. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 1-57505-465-5
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Carolrhoda
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2001