by Bijou Le Tord (Four Winds Press, 1984)
Did you know I am a school librarian? I’m in my third year, at my second school, and have done it for about a decade with a break for graphics in between. Hashtag old.
And speaking of old, that’s what my current school is. That’s great for things like traditions and history, but it’s really great for things like stories. I’ve had a bit of a triage situation on my hands, and the thing that has taken the biggest chunk of time is massive weeding and collection development. (And undoing the work of the packiest rat that ever packed.)
I’ve been brutal in nonfiction and biographies because poor old Pluto has had better days and a 1970 biography of Peggy Fleming isn’t triple-lutz-ing off the shelves. But then there are picture books. And I haven’t tossed a single one. I need to, for reasons of both space and sanity. But when your library is old, there’s a lot that sparkles under all that dust. And I want to be careful because of things like early, early editions of the Nutshell Library.
Here’s one I found that I’d never heard of before, and wow. If you can get your hands on a copy, it would be a great pair with The Little Gardener.
This is the story of a rabbit, a gentle, shaky, line of a thing.
And it’s the story of his garden. He bids adieu to the snow and ice, and welcomes the warming sun.
These beginning spreads are so simple, so uncluttered, so spare. Those black lines on white, framed by spring’s pastels.
And the words! So unfussy. So beautiful.
When the day cools, he waters his seeds. The sun and the earth begin their work.
He patiently waits, and watches for a first ripple or a crack on the ground.
He patiently sits, until the first seedlings shoot up.
That last spread has a surprising detail, one that fits perfectly into the rabbit’s world but one that is unusual for this particular sequence of images: that star. The sun has been a small circle, hovering over the garden, doing its work. But while the rabbit waits, a star. It must be night. He’s taken his picnic basket and he’s patiently sat, and when the sun dropped, the star showed up.
The seasons take over, as they do, and soon it’s time to welcome back winter. The last time we see the rabbit, he is happy. His work is done.
This rabbit and his work are both sweet and slow and dear, and this book is a quiet little wonder.