Once every fifty years, you might if you are lucky hear the Golden Hare sing. For hares are magical creatures, and it is through this song that their queen is chosen. Here, Jackie Morris has created a modern folk tale, her text keeping very much to the bare bones of the storyline as traditional tales do. It follows traditional patterns making use of traditional motifs – the secret treasure, the quest or journey, the greed that looks to destroy, the magic haven. These combine to form a simple but effective narrative.
It is the illustration that provides the colour, depth and richness to the whole. From the cover, with the hare dominating it, the gold leaf letters of the title provided subtle glamour, through the end papers creating the tangle of the undergrowth and full of the tiny creatures that belong to hat habitat and on through the richly imagined countryside, the reader is drawn into the soft blue-green world of the hare. The animals are lovingly drawn appearing in every spread in all their grace and beauty. However, this is not a cosy tale. There is jeopardy, everywhere, whether it is a fox in the distance, the barn owl peering into the scene or the hunter, his dogs both beautiful and deadly, who tracks the children and the hare from page to page. Jackie’s love of the natural world in all its guises is apparent throughout; the message that the world we live in needs care is one that is often central to her books. This is no exception, though it is perhaps, more subtly conveyed than sometimes. However, as always it is the art work – distinctive, absorbing, satisfying – that makes this book special.