The Cutest Brave Little Bunny

Penguin/Nancy Paulsen. Feb. 2024. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593462706.
PreS-Gr 2–Embedded in this gentle tale is a helpful framework for children who have long since grown weary of being patronized by the grown-ups around them. When a litter of rabbits is born, the barnyard animals in attendance can’t help but remark how adorable the new babies are. There’s just one problem—Little Bunny, the story’s protagonist, can’t stand being called cute. A plucky young thing, she speaks up and makes her feelings perfectly clear whenever a nearby creature praises her for her looks. She is most certainly not cute, she insists with mounting frustration; she is brave, helpful, and clever. If things stopped there, the book would still present a welcome opportunity for discussion about the language well-meaning adults use to refer to children. However, Steuerwald brings balance to the discussion and injects an unexpected note of complexity to the proceedings when Little Bunny lashes out at Little Chick, who never referred to her as cute in the first place—suggesting that a hypersensitive attitude, while understandable, may be off-putting. Ultimately, the new friends agree to shrug off their neighbors’ bothersome adulation. Warm shades of green dominate Steuerwald’s digital art, with scattered flowers and insects adding bright spots of color. The illustrations take the form of cloud-edged vignettes, some running across a spread and a few smaller ones depicting exchanges of dialogue.
VERDICT While the presentation is far from subtle, the overall message is a worthy one.

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