WHILE WE WERE OUT

Ho Baek Lee, Author, Ho Baek Lee, Illustrator . Kane/Miller $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-929132-44-7

Much like Stanley's Party (reviewed above) and Bruce Ingman's wickedly funny When Martha's Away (1995), this beguiling book from a South Korean author-artist chronicles the secret life of animals, in this case, a sparely but fetchingly pencilled white rabbit. She slips into an apartment while the family is "gone to Grandma's house." In streamlined white, gray and taupe, Lee's illustrations underscore the low-key verbal comedy (for "She's hungry. What looks good?" the rabbit stands in awe in front of a bountiful refrigerator). As she munches snacks on the sofa, watches a video, then "hops onto the dressing table, picks up this, smells that, a touch of lipstick... 'beautiful,' she thinks," strategic doses of color highlight the climactic moments (e.g., hot-pink lipstick offsets the bunny's lush, mascara-laden lashes; later, she dresses in a red gown that "the youngest in the family wore... to her first birthday party"). Wry surprises abound, such as in-line skates that prove too difficult—that is, until the rabbit fashions ski poles from chopsticks; a spread bathed in color shows the rabbit racing through the study. Most unexpected of all is the ending. ("She's had a wonderful adventure, and the family will never know. Or will they?" reads as a caption beneath four wind0w pane–style close-ups, each showing tiny rabbit "calling cards" left in various rooms of the apartment.) Readers may then spot a formerly unnoticed trail of evidence on previous pages, and appreciate the amusing dash of reality amid all the anthropomorphic fun. Ages 3-8. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/03/2003
Release date: 03/01/2003
Genre: Children's
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