When Rory the rabbit discovers he’s different from his rabbit friends, he feels self-conscious and decides to find another tribe.
Unlike many other bilingual picture books that offer side-by-side text, the story unfolds in Simplified Chinese with English text at the back paired to thumbnail illustrations, making it difficult to compare the translation. Like all the other rabbits, Rory “poops next to the snakeweed,” eats grass, and plays hide-and-seek. One day, he is shocked to discover his ears are much, much shorter than his friends’. Afraid they’ll “look down on him,” Rory decides not to be a rabbit anymore. First he joins a pack of dogs. But his short, bushy tail makes him stand out. Then Rory joins a sleuth of bears. “Bear ears and bear tails are both short,” he reasons. However, when winter comes, he refuses to hibernate in the darkness of a hollowed-out tree. Predictably, a bear says to him, “You’d be a lot happier if you would just be yourself,” and Rory realizes how much he misses his rabbit friends. Although the storyline is didactic and some of the translation awkwardly literal (“He made himself up to look like a grey dog”), the delightful illustrations compensate. Double-page spreads showcase cute, playful critters rendered in muted yet vibrant tones characteristic of Chinese brush painting. Native Chinese speakers will find the hanyu pinyin (Mandarin phonetic transcriptions) useful in pronouncing new words.
Young children will relate to Rory’s dilemma and respond to the adorable illustrations, but non-native readers will struggle to use the book as a learning tool. (glossary) (Bilingual picture book. 5-12)