Rabbit, Duck, and Big Bear

Random House Studio. Feb. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593486986.
K-Gr 2–Deep in the forest, there are three best friends: Rabbit, Duck, and Big Bear. They do everything together throughout the year, from throwing parties, to kicking leaves, to playing in the snow. However, they never go down the long, winding path together because they already have everything they need right where they are. But when Rabbit accidentally loses control and slides down that path, the three animals discover that even the best of friends can enjoy spending time alone, as well. This thoughtful picture book introduces readers to three seemingly inseparable companions, all of whom are approachable and cheerful in their demeanor. The illustrations are the focus of the story; each one covers the majority of the page, frequently depicting the protagonists in moments of action and activity. Young readers will be especially drawn to the images as the story is being read aloud to them thanks to their use of color, texture, and movement. Beside the pictures are blocks of text in small font that are primarily narrative in style, shifting from recounting what a character once said to having that creature speak directly later in the book. This choice gives the story a sense of both past and present as the characters discover truths about themselves and each other.
VERDICT This thoughtful picture book is a good choice for investigating the complex balance of friendship and independence.

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