Picture Book Reviews: A Stone Sat Still & Rabbit and the Motorbike

Reviews are here for two soon-to-be-released and eagerly anticipated picture books! Courtesy of my friends at Raincoast Books, I have the delight of talking about: Brendan Wenzel‘s A Stone Sat Still, and Rabbit and the Motorbike from Kate Hoefler and Sarah Jacoby. Happy reading!

A stone sat still with the water, grass, and dirt
and it was as it was where it was in the world.

The companion to They All Saw A Cat, the much-loved and critically acclaimed picture book from author and illustrator Brendan Wenzel, A Stone Sat Still returns to themes of perspective and animal habitat to bring readers a remarkable and effecting story. Opening on the determined yet gentle path of a snail, Wenzel’s latest story takes readers on the awe-inspiring odyssey of a single stone, as seen by a parade of animals. A quiet, warm resting place for a snake, a smooth surface for a porcupine, a rough cut terrain for a slug, an ominous hill for a beetle, “a maze, a danger, a haven”, it seems miraculous that one stone can be so many things to so many! As with They All Saw A Cat, A Stone Sat Still plays with vantage point: constant changes in perspective show the reader just how many wondrous things- possibly an indefinite number of things- a stone can be to many different living creatures. Wenzel’s story also wonderfully illustrates how passages of time both short- like a “blink”- and long- like an “age”- can change a seemingly immovable object’s surroundings in manners small and grand. Overall, A Stone Sat Still is truly mesmerizing and ingeniously told, with simple yet gorgeous rhyming verses and a magical refrain. Speaking to large concepts such as time, nature, permanence and the melancholy of impermanence, A Stone Sat Still is another visual and storytelling wonder from Brendan Wenzel. Note: Check under the dust jacket of A Stone Sat Still- if you can- for a beautiful design surprise!

While A Stone Sat Still is listed as a companion piece to They All Saw A Cat, you do not necessarily have to have read one to understand or appreciate the other; however (!), I would absolutely recommend reading, experiencing, and sharing both excellent works. For more of Brendan Wenzel’s work that speaks directly to animal and ecological conservation, interested readers can check out Hello Hello and pair with A Stone Sat Still to prod further dialogue on endangered species and the loss of animal habitat in recent history.

Image from A Stone Sat Still via Brendan Wenzel’s site

When birds made nests in the spokes, there was birdsong. But it was a life quieter than a bird’s. And the birds always left.

One night when Rabbit was in the mood for a story, he brought the motorbike in. But it didn’t tell Rabbit any stories, and Rabbit had none to tell it.

Author Kate Hoefler (Real Cowboys, illustrated by Jonathan Bean) and artist Sarah Jacoby (Forever and a Day) join together for the touching and joyous picture book Rabbit and the Motorbike. Over the course of a close friendship, Rabbit and Dog have made a good pair. Rabbit has always been rather quiet and not so keen to explore, while Dog has always been an adventurer and eager to share his tales. Dog has lived his life often out on his motorbike, visiting new people and new places around the country, but always returning to visit his best friend Rabbit and regale him with incredible stories- stories that made Rabbit feel as though wherever Dog had been, ‘Rabbit had been right there with him”. Now, sadly, Dog is “too old and sick” to travel anymore…and soon darkness and quiet and time catch up and leave Rabbit alone with memories and Dog’s motorbike in his care. Worried about the motorbike lying in wait and living a much-too-quiet of a life with him, Rabbit dreams and thinks and recognizes his fears over a stretch of time. In a formidable moment, Rabbit looks down the road before him, Dog’s motorbike by his side, and decides to simply go and be. In turns beautiful, joyful and brave, Rabbit’s life carries on, albeit in some very different- and some surprisingly similar- ways. Hoefler’s story is full and appealingly tenderhearted, perfectly matched by Jacoby’s artwork, at once light-handed but with glorious bursts of colours that capture Rabbit’s emotions and the unstoppable, changing world around him. For readers searching for beautiful, tender and thoughtful picture books that explore the depths of friendship and the experience of loss laced with rays of hope, Rabbit and the Motorbike is absolutely one to pick up. If you are looking for further suggestions on these topics or similarly eloquent and gorgeous reads, try pairing Rabbit and the Motorbike with picture books such as Brian Lies’ The Rough Patch, or Jessixa Bagley’s A Boat for Papa.

Image from Rabbit and the Motorbike via Sarah Jacoby’s site

I received copies of these titles courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. A Stone Sat Still is set for publication August 27, 2019 from Chronicle Books; Rabbit and the Motorbike is set for publication September 10, 2019 from Chronicle Books.

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