A group of animal friends misinterprets a small piece of information, resulting in outsized fears and creating a one-joke tale that rolls quickly along to a happy ending.
The confusion begins when a quizzical-looking rabbit named Rupert spots an item about a wolf in the area while reading the paper. He hurries to warn his friends. As the story spreads and grows, each animal adds its own self-inspired spin. Cleo, the cat, describes the wolf’s “sharp claws,” while Antoine, the alligator, focuses on its big teeth and biting ability. Young listeners are sure to get the joke when they realize that Antoine is sharing his fears with his friend Wallace, who just happens to be a wolf. Oddly enough, Wallace doesn’t point out the foolishness of their fears. Instead he panics too and urges all of his friends inside for a bowl of mushroom soup, which they enjoy in the safety of his “double-locked” house. Most of Felix’s anthropomorphized animals wear items of clothing, and all are engaged in typical human activities. These details definitely add appeal (Antoine in the bathtub in an old-fashioned striped bathing costume is particularly amusing, while Rupert’s blue jacket is decidedly reminiscent of another storybook rabbit’s), but they aren’t enough to entirely outweigh the predictable plot and didactic overtones.
Ironically enough, this particular Rumor doesn’t seem likely to inspire much repetition. (Picture book. 6-8)