RABBIT REVIEWS PART 2 – BROWN BUNNIES’ BEST BOOKS

Seeing as it’s bunny week at Kids’ Book Capers, Tania and I have invited some special guests to hop over and talk about their favourite books. Yesterday the white bunnies talked about their favourites, today it’s the  brown bunnies’ turn.

So please put your paws together today to welcome Max McCartney and Cosi White.

MAX RABBIT’S COLLECTION

Knuffle Bunny – written and illustrated by Mo Willems.

Hello. I’m a very fluffy, brown lop-eared rabbit. After a rather confronting run in with ‘the snip’, I must admit I’m not the powerhouse I used to be. Although I may not be ‘all there’ – and now prefer reading a good book to gadding about – I can still pack a punch when need be.

Another thing that packs a punch with me is Mo Willems’ Knuffle Bunny series. I laughed so hard when I read book one – A Cautionary Tale – I blew a grass seed out my nose. True story.

Knuffle Bunny belongs to Trixie. He’s a soft, floppy rabbit who suffers the indignity of being left in the wash cycle at the local laundromat. Horrified to learn Knuffle Bunny is missing, Trixie goes into meltdown until her bunny can be found.

This book is hugely indicative of the love little kids feel for rabbits. Doesn’t matter that they’re real or a little unreal – there’s just something about a bunny that pulls the heartstrings. I know I can sit in front of a mirror for hours, admiring my own fluffball of cute.

Mo has since written more books in the series – book two A Case of Mistaken Identity and book three – An Unexpected Diversion. Bring on book four.

Rabbit’s Year – written by Melissa Keil, illustrated by Jedda Robaard.

My owners, Ella and Riley, spent four years of their childhood in China, and although I’ve never been there, I really love this book about a really cool Chinese bunny who makes for an excellent friend. It’s especially poignant during this Year of the Rabbit.

I know I already have a very close friend in Mango (sometimes too close), but I must say I would like to make a friend of Rabbit. He’s a shy bunny – a bit like me, especially since ‘the snip’ – but he’s also a courageous soul.

Rabbit likes to play music but is too shy to join the other animals of the Chinese Zodiac – until one day, he begins playing his music louder and louder and louder, until the other animals can’t help but acknowledge him.

This book is not only really amazing to look at, I just love how it goes on to explain the varying personality traits of all the other Zodiac animals… and the best thing of all is that rabbits, as always, come out best.

Favouritism? Me???

Cosi Rabbit

COSI RABBIT’S COLLECTION

The House of 12 Bunnies – written by Caroline Stills and Sarcia Stills-Blott.

My favourite book is The House of 12 Bunnies. It’s written by Caroline Stills & Sarcia Stills-Blott and I love the pictures drawn by Judith Rossell.

I love living with Pickachew Rabbit in our burrow, but I sometimes think I’d like to live in The House of 12 Bunnies because it looks like so much fun. There are bunnies in the bath, at the piano, sitting in chairs and doing all kinds of fun bunny things while they are looking for something they have lost.

That happens to me sometimes, the juiciest carrot goes missing…then I see it in my friend, Pickachew’s mouth.

My favourite part is at the end when the 12 snuggly bunnies are warm and cozy in bed together.

Princess and Fairy by Anna Pignatoro

I also really like the Princess and Fairy books because they are so full of pretty things and they are Look and Find books so it’s lots of fun to turn the pages and ‘pawse’ to look at the great pictures.

Princess and Fairy are two rabbits who always look pretty and do fun things like play dressups and imagine stories and read them ‘under the fair starlight.’

After I’ve had my bunny nap I like to open the pages and look for all the small things in the pictures. I’m very good at spotting them.

I like the way Princess and Fairy dress up in costumes, have fun with the friends and do all sorts of things that small rabbits like to do.

Tania and I have had such fun having Pickachew, Mango, Max and Cosi to visit. We hope you’ve enjoyed it too.


 

THE HOUSE OF 12 BUNNIES REVIEWED

Before reviewing The House of 12 Bunnies, I have to declare for the record that I live in a house with two bunnies, so this book was always going to have appeal for me.

But I was also drawn to the fun of a houseful of young rabbits causing chaos as they go about their business. I enjoyed their childlike actions – and the way they cover just about every piece of floor space with their toys and precious belongings.

Sophia, a cute white bunny is the star of The House of 12 Bunnies due for release by Little Hare books tomorrow.

Being completely white she is easy to distinguish from the other bunnies and can be seen peering over fences, among toys and between boxes; her little white face sometimes only just visible.

Written by mother and daughter, Caroline Stills and Sarcia Stills-Blott, The House of 12 Bunnies is an entertaining read with beautiful illustrations by Judith Rossell. She has drawn each rabbit with its own endearing personality.

Sarcia was 8 when she wrote the first draft of this story and seems to have injected a child’s sense of fun into The House of 12 Bunnies.

This picture book has so many layers and Judith Rossell’s images offer something different for the reader every time they open the book. The closer you look the more you realise how much fun these bunnies are truly having.

The storyline is something small children will relate to – losing an important  possession just before bedtime. I’m not going to give away the ending but the resolution will leave the reader content and ready for sleep.

There is also a learning component to the book with opportunities to count and add up and to identify different animals and objects.

“In the playroom there are 5 teddy bears, 3 dogs, 2 cats, 1 duck and a giraffe with stuffing coming out.”

There was so much to enjoy about this story and the gorgeous pictures, that I couldn’t choose a favourite scene, but bunny bathtime and bunnies bouncing on the bed sure brought back memories of when my kids were little. And that’s where I think The House of 12 Bunnies will have appeal for small children and adults alike.

As the blurb on the back of the book says, “When twelve messy bunnies live under the same roof, the rooms nearly bust with fun things…”

And of course there’s the fact that The House of 12 Bunnies is published by Little Hare

 

WHY JUDITH ROSSELL CHOSE RABBITS FOR HER LATEST PICTURE BOOK

Today, illustrator of The House of 12 Bunnies visits Kids’ Book Capers to talk about being an illustrator and why she chose bunnies for this book.

Have you always enjoyed illustrating?

Yes, when I was small, like many kids, I liked to write stories and illustrate them.  I was one of those children who was always getting in trouble for drawing in class, when I should have been doing something else.

How did you become an illustrator?

I used to do greetings cards and other small illustration jobs all the way through school and uni. I remember doing a design for the mining engineering student society’s badge, and getting paid $20 and some beer. I was pretty happy about that! I studied science, and worked for 7 or 8 years, and later I became a full time illustrator. I started out mainly illustrating educational books, greeting cards and a bit of commercial illustration. Now I mainly illustrate children’s books. I’ve been doing it for about 12 years now.

Where does your inspiration come from?

From all around the place! Recently, I’ve been doing more drawing from life, which is good practice for me, and also makes me look at things properly. I also like to look at other illustrator’s and artist’s work.

What inspired you most about illustrating this book?

I liked the idea of a house full of messy characters. I have friends with little children, and a messy house gives you the impression that there are lots of  fun things going on! Originally, the text was for a house of 12 children, and I made a start drawing them, but it wasn’t really working, and so I tried creating 12 rabbit characters instead, and they seemed much more appealing!

Who is your favourite character and why?

I tried to give each of the 12 rabbits his or her own personality. In each picture, there is a sad little grey rabbit who often misses out. He might be my favourite, I feel a bit sorry for him.

How did you decide what the main character would look like?

The main rabbit is Sophia, who is looking for something. I chose to make her a plain white rabbit, so she stands out from the others and is easy to recognise even if you can only see a tiny part of her, like the tips of her ears.

Can you tell us about the illustrating process for this book?

Firstly, I planned the characters, and it was at this stage they changed from being people to being rabbits! Then I made pencil drawings of all the pages, and sent them off to the editor for her feedback. The designer used these pencil drawings to make the layout, which was great, because then when I came to make the final illustrations, I could incorporate the changes she wanted. It’s great to work with a good designer! Then I went ahead and transferred the pencil drawings to the watercolour paper. Then I painted them.

What was your favourite part of the illustration process?

I quite like making the final artwork. I tend to watch DVDs when I work, and make lots of cups of tea. I like colouring in!

What was the hardest part of the illustration process?

Doing the rough drawings is sometimes quite difficult. In a book like this, where each page has the 12 rabbits in a different room, I tried hard to make sure that all the pages worked together, but that there was also enough variety on each page so they didn’t look too similar.

Did you get to collaborate with the author or did you work fairly independently?

Fairly independently. I didn’t have any communication with the authors.

Can you tell us about the medium you used to illustrate this book?

Pencil and acrylic (which I use like watercolour).

How long did it take to illustrate?

About 6 weeks.

How many books have you illustrated?

About 80

What number is this one?

Perhaps 81?? I’m not sure.

Any tips for people who would like to become children’s book illustrators?

Practice drawing things! In particular, children and animals. Be brave and take your folio around to show publishers.

Anything else of interest you might like to tell our blog readers?

People might be interested to know that my cat Fidel now weighs more than 7 kg!! (haha!) Also, a picture book I wrote and illustrated, ‘Oliver’ is going to be published by Harper Collins in the US next year. I’m very excited about it!

You can find out more about Judith Rossell by checking out her new website at judithrossell.com

 

CAROLINE STILLS IS PASSIONATE ABOUT PICTURE BOOKS

L-R: Sarcia and Caroline Stills with their new book

Caroline Stills and her daughter Sarcia are the authors of a gorgeous new picture book, The House of 12 Bunnies due for release on 20th August. Today, Caroline visits Kids’ Book Capers to tell us about her writing journey.

How did you become a writer?

I started to take my writing seriously when my first daughter was born, back in 2000. No longer in the paid workforce, I figured that I would have plenty of time to write – after all, babies spend so much time sleeping – right? The reality of the emotional rollercoaster of being a new parent – and sleep deprivation – soon set in, but I did start putting pen to paper, and joined a writers’ group for added support. My first attempts at writing were for adults, but inspired by my children, I wrote the text for a picture book a few years ago, and was extremely fortunate to have the result “Magic Mummy” published as my first picture book.

What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

I love being a writer – it’s fun creating new characters, stories and worlds. The best part is being able to work from home, so I can combine my writing with being a mum, which is my most important job.

What is the hardest thing about being a writer?

Having a manuscript rejected is never easy. And it’s hard to make a living solely from writing, but I’m working on that!

What were you in a past life (if anything) before you became a writer?

Immediately before I started writing, I was co-running a business designing and selling maternity wear, which my business partner and I started from scratch. Before that I worked as a remuneration analyst at a bank and as a Tafe teacher. And before that I did lots of odd jobs to pay my way through University.

What is your greatest writing achievement?

I can’t name an achievement as my greatest – maybe it’s still to come – but I do feel chuffed each time I walk into a shop and see one of my books on the shelves.

What are you working on at the moment?

I always have a picture-book or two on the go, but I am also trying other types of writing. I have just finished my first novel manuscript for middle school aged children, and have just started my first attempt at a Young Adult novel, which I’m excited about and very much enjoying.

Do you have any tips for new writers?

If writing is your passion, enjoy the journey. I also think a good writers’ group is really invaluable, both for what you can learn from each other, but also for the emotional support from those who know just how you feel.

How many books have you had published?

Three picture books:

Magic Mummy, illustrated by Christina Miesen, published by Black Dog Books in 2009.

An A to Z of Pirates, illustrated by Heath McKenzie, published by Little Hare Books in 2010.

The House of 12 Bunnies, co-written with my daughter, Sarcia, illustrated by Judith Rossell, and published by Little Hare Books, has just been released.

Book number four – An A to Z of Fairies – is due for release in a couple of months.

Anything else of interest you might like to tell our blog readers?

We will be celebrating the release of The House of 12 Bunnies, on August 20, 2011. Please see my website for more details; www.CarolineStills.com

On Wednesday, Caroline is back at Kids’ Book Capers to talk about how she and Sarcia wrote The House of 12 Bunnies. Illustrator, Judith Rossell is visiting on Thursday to talk about how she created the wonderful pics, and on Friday there will be a bunny review here at Kids’ Book Capers. Hope you can join us.