Mother and daughter, graphic designer/illustrator, Leslie and bookseller Zoë have teamed up for this debut picture book and what a good partnership they make.
Herein we are introduced to – so long as he stops still for more than a few seconds – ‘O’Hare’ (aka Hare King or hare-kin), a golden creature if ever there was one. We follow the frisky character from the churchyard, along the riverbank through the waterside meadow scrub – what’s he doing in the water? Then he moves between the cabbages, in among the foxgloves and thence leaping in the field of ripening corn where he hears a sound and is gone once more, slinking away into the dewy grassland – gone! That search takes the first fourteen pages and is followed by a section of hare mythology and legends, some hare facts and the final pages documents differences between hares and rabbits (I learned something new here).
The poetry of William Cowper and an encounter with a hare itself were Zoë Greaves’ inspirations for the book and a fortuitous one it surely was. Her playful, lyrical text reads aloud well. ‘He was hare … and now he’s gone./ The fellow in the dew The slink-away/ Heir to the moon.’ The beautiful, finely detailed illustrations have an almost photographic quality to them and it’s a case of the more you look the more you see: butterflies flitting among the poppies and cornflowers in the meadow, the frog and vole beside the bulrushes for instance. An unusual and fascinating book.