cover image Rabbit and the Moon

Rabbit and the Moon

Douglas Wood. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80769-5

""Once long ago--in the morning of the world--there was a rabbit,"" begins this gently appealing pourquoi story from the Canadian Cree. Rabbit dreams of ""riding upon the moon at night."" He tries jumping up to reach it, then asking birds both large and small to help, but they refuse. Finally Crane, seeing Rabbit's dilemma, agrees to carry him to the moon. Rabbit holds onto Crane's legs so tightly that he bleeds, and once on the moon, when Rabbit pats his helper's head, he gives the bird the distinctive red spot it bears to this day. Wood's warm, understated style suits the target audience, but the storytelling is not nearly as compelling as in his Old Turtle. Baker's (A Song for Lena) watercolors are the real draw here. The artist breathes life into the characters, especially Rabbit, who looks as cuddly as a stuffed toy (in one spread, the bunny, as crane's cargo, dangles from the dramatic bird's legs, as he gazes at the earth far below, surrounded by stars). An author's note provides background to this highly visual journey. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)