cover image How Rabbit Lost His Tail

How Rabbit Lost His Tail

Ann Tompert, Ann Rompert. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-82281-4

""A long time ago when the world was young, Rabbit's tail was not short and stubby like it is now. It was once long and flowing like Squirrel's."" Based on a Senecan legend, Tompert's (Just a Little Bit) lighthearted rendition owes most of its interest to Chwast's (What Are Roses For?) charming retro illustrations. For most of the tale, Rabbit is stranded in a willow tree, appealing in vain to other animals for help; when the rabbit complains of hunger, Porcupine says, ""Climb down or starve."" The minimal dramatic build-up is provided mainly by the unhelpful animals' teasing him for being afraid to jump. Finally Rabbit musters the courage, but his tail catches in the tree and from that day on, he and ""all members of Rabbit's tribe had little stubby tails"" while willow trees sport fuzzy tails in the spring. Chwast's delectable, sprightly watercolors, with thick black lines and soft solid colors, resemble woodcuts. She adds humor to the rabbit's plight as he clings to his branch, sporting a pink-and-orange striped shirt and looking terribly concerned. Her illustrations add much-needed sweetness and kick to a fairly sour little tale. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)