Rabbit has an answer to all Mum’s suggestions from time to get up until bath time – “No!” But even a little rabbit can sometimes say “Yes” when the prize is as special as a cuddle from Mum.
Pitching a picture book at the very youngest is not easy. Tone, setting, language and the visual impact all have to be right. They do not have to be simplistic nor necessarily brightly coloured. In this her debut picture book, Marjoke Henrichs strikes all the right notes. The situation is one that both the very young and the parent will recognise. That moment when the child begins to exert independence, unwilling to do what others want, determined to take action on their own account – the default answer to any suggestion, demand or question “No”. However, there is always the possibility of a “yes” without losing face. Marjoke Henrichs’ success lies in the way she really does address the child rather than the adult. The text is minimal and repetitious, a dialogue that will be recognisable in real life, the activities everyday, as are the responses. Her images are uncluttered and bold making full use of the whole page. Clear outlines and textured crayon ensure the visual language is interesting and immediate without being overwhelming. Rabbit, while clearly a rabbit, is also that child reading the book. His chunky body neatly dressed in his favourite top and trousers with pockets dominates the pages, the centre of attention. His activities are just what one would expect and a child can understand – whether getting dressed (a bit of a struggle) to splashing in puddles, kicking a ball and finally enjoying that bath he didn’t want to have. This is a picture book that really does work.