Fuse 8 n’ Kate: Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present by Charlotte Zolotow, ill. Maurice Sendak
“The Secret Garden meets Donnie Darko”.
Kate has informed me that I’m a bit of a “Debby Downer” in this episode, so consider yourself warned. This may have something to do with the fact that my immediate family came down with COVID and had to cancel our trip to DisneyWorld. Of course, you can’t keep a good talk about odd picture books of the past down! We discuss everything from whether or not the bunny in Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present betrays Maurice Sendak’s love of Mickey Mouse (and suggests he was more of a Bugs Bunny fan) to his pack-a-day voice.
Good old Slap Happy Larry takes a real deep deep dive into Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present discussing everything from whether or not Mr. Rabbit is a Pooka or owes anything to that great big invisible rabbit Harvey.
The animated series I reference was The Maxx. If you want creepy rabbits, m’friend, then check out the trailer here. NSFW, though. That thing was hugely influential on me back in the day.
By the way, look at the body language of Mr. Rabbit, even on this cover. The fact that he’s just resting his arms between his knees like this is unusual and marvelous. I love what Sendak does with his body language in this book.
Kate does NOT approve of just ripping a branch off wholesale off the tree. Poor apple picking technique there, Mr. Rabbit.
The hand on the hip… this rabbit is fascinating. And how is Kate not seeing this abandoned picnic as as strange as I do?
Whatever they’re feeding this pear tree, can I have some? This abundance… It makes me wonder about how comfortable Sendak, such a NYC fella, felt doing something this pastoral. Not that he didn’t return to pastoral themes time and time again.
Only Kate, I say ONLY KATE, could look at this image of Mr. Rabbit waving goodbye and see something sinister at work.
Betsy Recommends: The podcast Sawbones
Filed under: Fuse 8 n' Kate
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
SLJ Blog Network