cover image Cowboy Bunnies

Cowboy Bunnies

Ella Fitzgerald, Christine Loomis. Putnam Publishing Group, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22625-0

Loomis's (Rush Hour) subject is the daily routine of rabbits who play at being cowboys, and Eitan (Inch by Inch) embraces it with originality and visual gusto. Her illustrations are painted in earth tones on weathered wooden planks of varying sizes. The planks are then placed side by side so that they resemble old frontier fences or barn sides. Every spread is vibrant--Eitan is particularly fond of electric yellow or cloud white against sky blue backgrounds but is equally at home with bunnies sporting maroon shirts sitting among green pines. There's a wonderful unpredictability in the arrangement of the planks: an illustration may be configured with vertical or horizontal slats, or a combination of the two; it may extend across several narrow boards, or be divided into table-like leaves. Eitan possesses a breezy wit as well (e.g., a smiling bunny astride a rocking horse rides a range filled with pull-toy cows). The artwork's homespun yet sophisticated quality augments the book's central conceit, lending the characters depth and diversity. The narrative arc of the bunnies' action-packed day is conveyed with catchy couplets worthy of any good cowboy ditty: ""Cowboy bunnies/ In pajamas/ Hug and kiss/ Their cowboy mamas."" Young cow-bunnies will welcome this rhyming tale as they nestle in for some shut-eye. Ages 2-6. (Dec.)