cover image Most Timid in the Land

Most Timid in the Land

Chronicle Books, Oliver Herford. Chronicle Books, $12.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-87701-862-9

The illustrator of Ten Little Rabbits introduces many more of her fetching bunnies in this spirited revival of Herford's turn-of-the-century poem. When a medieval bunny king ``Announced one day he would bestow / Princess Bunita's hand / On the Bunny who should prove himself / Most timid in the land,'' the challenge provokes the single male lapins to hone their timidity skills; some even take classes to learn to faint at the sight of their own shadows. When the day of reckoning arrives, rather than confront one another, 100 hopeful hares ``begin the glorious flight!'' As they take off around the world, the princess reads patiently in her throne, waiting for the victor to return. Though the subtle, wry humor of Herford's rhymed verse may elude youngsters--and his convoluted syntax may initially vex, they'll find Long's busy, full-page pictures beguiling. The rabbits' delightfully expressive faces, intricately patterned costumes and imaginative antics (they even tinker playfully with Long's exquisite borders) make this a splendid visual treat. Ages 2-6. (Apr.)