Bunny Roo, I Love You

illus. by White, Teagan. 32p. ebook available. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399167423.
Baby-Toddler—A sweet but less-than-successful parental love letter. Despite the title, a bunny only briefly appears. The narration begins "When I met you, you were small and trembling, and I thought you might be a little bunny," while the illustrations present a lone bunny quivering amongst bright foliage. On the next spread, a mother rabbit in an apron cuddles the bunny as the text explains, "I held you close so you were warm." On the following pages, readers are told how the little one behaves like a lost kangaroo, a curious lizard, and a thirsty kitten, each iteration necessitating some measure of comfort from an animal mother. The flow from one creature to another often feels abrupt, and some of the mother's actions may leave readers puzzled. For example, after "you" howled like a lonely wolf, the mother wolf "ran to [her] house and made you a cozy den so you had a home," a phrase that implies some separation yet feels out of place after pages of mother and child togetherness. In the end, the "you" is revealed to be the mother's human baby, but the lack of repetition and rhythm in the text and the complex comparisons lift this title well above the interest level of most babies and toddlers. White's hand-lettered text and delicate watercolor and gouache illustrations shine in spite of the narrative flaws, with a palette of earth tones against plenty of white space clearly differentiating each comparison.
VERDICT Beautiful illustrations are the draw here. Unfortunately, the undistinguished text fails to find its audience.

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