Oliver, the cotton-tailed protagonist of this gentle-hearted picture book, is determined to win the annual strawberry-growing contest, despite teasing from the bigger bunnies and his own lack of experience. Self-assured and hard-working, Oliver is also quick-thinking: he outwits hungry birds, gophers and even a party of bears to save his crop and emerge victorious, harvesting the biggest, brightest berries around. Though occasionally didactic, Molk's (Beneath the Ghost Moon) text cheerily conveys several important messages, including the value of self-confidence and conviction, and the positive effects of a parent's love and encouragement. Sunny, airy watercolors provide an up-close look at a garden cycle; a few spreads offer cutaway views, showing life below ground as well as above. For all the roving bears and swooping birds, this countryside remains serene, subtly preparing the reader for the bedtime theme of the ending. Ages up to 8. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/04/1999 Release date: 01/01/1999 Genre: Children's
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