cover image Brother Rabbit

Brother Rabbit

Minfong Ho. HarperCollins Publishers, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-12552-3

This Cambodian trickster is just as brazen as his more familiar Western cousin, Brer Rabbit; he hones his wits, however, on a different set of dupes. In a chain of vignettes, Brother Rabbit flatters a crocodile into giving him a ride across the river, tricks a human out of her basket of bananas and manipulates an elephant into freeing him from a sticky tree stump. The crocodile plots revenge, but his plan repeatedly withers in the brilliance of Brother Rabbit's stratagems. Hewitson's (Mother Earth Father Sky) busy, panoramic watercolor-and-ink illustrations mimic woodcuts, managing to be both rustic and refreshingly sophisticated, decorative and dynamic. Just as Hewitson captures the lush topography of Cambodia, Ho and Ros, who previously collaborated on The Two Brothers, keep readers mindful of the story's setting: in a prefatory note, they explain that this tale of insurgence in the animal kingdom was especially dear to the powerless Cambodian farmers and villagers, who likewise longed to turn the tables on the landlords, soldiers and kings. Small children are likely to be similarly taken with this bad, bad bunny. Ages 4-up. (May)