The Bunny Band, written by Leacock medal-winning author Bill Richardson and illustrated by The Alphabet Thief artist Roxanna Bikadoroff, tells the story of badger named Lavinia who makes a deal with her vegetable garden thief to some unexpected results. In alternating rhyming pattern, the story opens on vegetable-loving Lavinia, tending to her prized garden, only to soon find that a thief has stolen her goods: “‘Who dares to come and nibble here? Who gnaws each tender leaf?’ Lavinia, angry, set a snare to catch the veggie thief”. Though Lavinia does find the suspected thief- a bunny!- caught in her trap, the bunny promises they’ve “got magic” up their sleeve, and promises to help Lavinia’s garden flourish again and better than before- if she lets him go. Perhaps surprisingly, Lavinia does let the bunny go, and waits to see what the bunny will bring, and if he will make good on his promise. Not only does the bunny return, but he returns with dozens of bunny friends “clutching in their hands not vegetables but instruments. Gadzooks! A bunny band”. The story then dances on with Richardson’s terrific, crisp writing, leading to a special- and much welcome!- surprise for both Lavinia and the unbelievable bunny band. Perfect for readers who enjoy the work of authors and illustrators such as Jan Brett, Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, The Bunny Band has a wonderful old-world storytelling aura about it, yet it the story itself is fresh and timeless, with Bikadoroff’s sincerely delightful illustrations adding additional layers of humour and vibrancy to the story.
Pinny in Fall, written by Town Is by the Sea author Joanne Schwartz and illustrated by Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress artist Isabelle Malenfant, follows the quietly shining adventures of a young girl named Pinny and her friends Annie and Lou. First introduced in Pinny in Summer, Pinny’s tales and sidesteps into experiences are written so beautifully by Schwartz, melodic, serene and comforting all at once. In these fall-centered brief chapters, the chillier breeze, the wind and the fog bring about new events: interludes of Pinny playing with her two friends in the tall grass and unruly wind, as well as some unanticipated excitement when fog rolls over and the lighthouse keeper requests “extra hands” at the lighthouse to warn a ship “too close to shore!”. Pinny and her friends then find themselves the recipients of treasure courtesy of the grateful lighthouse keeper; Pinny, treasure in hand, heads back home only to see “flashes of red, yellow and gold…flying past the window” and heads back outside to enjoy another sublime experience of fall magic. Malenfant’s genuinely appealing, softly radiant artwork captures the sensations of fall, and is a perfect match to Schwartz’s beautiful, assured writing. Readers who love Joanne Schwartz and Sydney Smith’s award-winning Town Is by the Sea, the work of Kenard Pak, Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead, or the restrained loveliness of picture books such as The Specific Ocean or The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, might especially delight in visiting Pinny’s harmonious world.
I received copies of these titles courtesy of Groundwood Books/House of Anansi in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. The Bunny Band and Pinny in Fall have been published and are currently available.