Fuse 8 n’ Kate: Who’s In Rabbit’s House by Verna Aardema, ill. Leo and Diane Dillon
In our current era, it is worth considering the legacy of folks like Verna Aardema. Kate and I are no children’s literature academics, but we decide as laymen to take into account Aardema’s history and how it does or does not stand out after all these years. Having already done Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by this same trio (Aardema, Dillon, & Dillon) we return to their works with this 1977 take on a classic Masai tale. Considering its year and the appropriation by a white creator of a specific story, we have a lot of complicated feelings about the book. Even so, there’s such creativity behind the presentation of the material. The play-within-a-play motif sets this apart. The art is extraordinary. And was there every such a goofy frog?
In an era before backmatter, publication pages tended to be where people would place additional information about a book. And while the book discusses “Africa” in the broadest sense of the term, Aardema herself quotes her own sources, and the tribe the tale comes from. It’s a complex situation and one worth examining.
In the course of the story the Frog rapidly becomes Kate’s favorite character. What she fails to mention is that Frog is also a female character. I think that’s pretty neat. Plus, Frog is highly amused by all these proceedings.
Kate was the one who noticed the lions. As the show continues, a slow growing pride of lions starts to form, just outside of the boundaries of the village, to watch the show as well.
No lie. This visualization of how to depict a caterpillar is pretty clever.
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.
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