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*Hopalong Jack & the Blue Bunnies* by Jeri Landers


Hopalong Jack & the Blue Bunnies
by Jeri Landers
Preschool - grade 3 36 pages Ochre Moon Press 2005 Hardcover    

Tennessee artist Jeri Landers channels Beatrix Potter alternately with Rien Poortvliet and Wil Huygen in her intricately illustrated Hopalong Jack and the Blue Bunnies complete with a fully-fleshed, completely imagined bucolic setting in Hopalong Hollow.

Young Hopalong Jack, though well-fed and much-loved in a burrow overflowing with buns, feels "lost in a sea of ears." He yearns for a way to stand out in the lapin crowd. Inspired by the grace and elegance of a deer's velvety rack, he creates his own set of antlers with branches, moss, pinecones and vines. But once his legion of brothers and sisters catch sight of his new crowning glory, they all set about making their own decorative headgear.

Jack soon spies a strutting peacock, resplendent in its shimmering blue. Jack collects blueberries by the hundreds, then sheds his jacket and rolls about in them until his fur is its own dignified shade of blue. His siblings are awed, but when a stray blueberry falls from his ear, the entire warren heads to the blueberry patch to follow his lead.

A dismayed Jack, seeing the carefree mood of the nearby farm's uppity cat as she chews on and rolls in a patch of garden catnip, decides to try some for himself. He hopes to find joy in the nasty-tasting herb, but his now-blue brother and sister bunnies join in, eating heartily. Soon, though, they find not happiness but tummy aches.

Jack awakens to beautiful strains of music played by some woodland folk of furred, fowl and scaled varieties. The music makes Jack feel wonderful, and he begins to dance and thump along to the rhythm. As the other bunnies join in, each adding a unique rhythm and sound to the symphony, Jack realizes that everyone, bunny or otherwise, is unique in their own way.

Landers includes rhyming insider information about the four bunny families of Hopalong Hollow at book's end - what they eat, what they wear, how they bunk, the tea they drink, plus the names of all twenty-three Hopalong children. She even shares a little secret: on every page hides a tiny blue bunny (a la "Where's Waldo?") waiting to be discovered within her detailed, folksy watercolor, ink, and gouache illustrations. Another bonus: endpapers featuring Landers' "The grasshoppers of Hopalong Hollow," an elaborate scene of the hollow done in Swiss-style silhouette paper-cutting.

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  Pamela Crossland/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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