cover image Tom's Rabbit

Tom's Rabbit

Meredith Hooper, Meredith Hooper. National Geographic Society, $15.95 (29pp) ISBN 978-0-7922-7070-6

A sailor's search for a nest for his pet rabbit spurs a fascinating tour aboard a ship headed toward Antarctica in 1910. As crewman Tom surveys the crowded vessel, he discovers a cat tucked in a miniature hammock, a parrot swinging on a perch, dogs howling on deck and horses snug in wooden stalls, beneath which he finds a cozy home for his rabbit amid the hay. All the while, preparations progress in the galley and dining area for a ""special dinner,"" and soon the author reveals that it's Christmas Eve (which culminates in the rabbit's delivery of 17 babies). Hooper based her research on diaries kept during the 1910 voyage of the British Terra Nova, whose mission was to be the first to reach the South Pole (a Norwegian expedition beat them to it). Kitchen (Animal ABC) handily contrasts the tidy and cramped quarters below deck to the open expanse and incandescent light of the water and sky, as Tom views an icy sea filled with whales and penguins perched atop icebergs. The particularly memorable closing spread of Christmas morning shows a glacial sunrise of glimmering gold, white, purple and many shades of orange, evoking a sense of being on top of the world and at the edge of a last frontier. By the book's end, readers may well feel that they, too, have completed a voyage of discovery. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)