‘Dip-dwelling grass-grazer, beautiful Hare – ask why she’s standing, ask what she hears….’
There’s a fox stalking Hare, but he’ll have to be very fast to catch her. Hare’s long ears ‘rise like hands in class’ and ‘quick as a sniff, she’s a firm-footed lea-leaper’ bounding effortlessly from her natural grassy habitat to less familiar landscapes. On her first jump, Hare lands in the American desert where she meets a ‘black-tailed scrub-scrambler’ called Jackrabbit, who’s a distant cousin. But there’s no time to play – a coyote is prowling, so Hare leaps onto a snowy mountain slope where Arctic Hare is peeping from a ‘fur-warm hole.’ Will our ‘fire-eyed moon-jumper’ be safe here? Or will the Snowy Owl force Hare to make another jump?
With every leap, children are introduced to new animals and habitats, but danger follows Hare from one page to the next. In this story, she does reach home safely – but real Hares need protecting, and information about the Hare Preservation Trust is provided on the final spread, together with some interesting facts and figures and a glossary.
Dom Conlon is a poet who knows how to make a picturebook text sing. Read it aloud to enjoy the rhythms and sounds – there are mini-kennings to be explored, and plenty of intriguing words and imagery. Anastasia Izlesou’s dramatic artwork presents Hare’s experiences in close-up and from unusual angles. Landscapes and vegetation are identifiable, but depicted with an eye for form and colour rather than aiming for the hyper-real, and the resulting artwork feels invitingly immersive. Gorgeous endpapers reminiscent of medieval tapestries dotted with hares, foxes and meadow flowers bookend a series of narrative spreads, where readers are invited to experience Hare’s surroundings and join her in keeping watch for predators.
This quietly impressive book is well worth sharing and will encourage readers to appreciate the natural world. It may inspire the writing of new poems, too!