Because of the Rabbit

by Cynthia Lord (2019)

An Intro and Sweet Spot selection.

“Anything is possible w/ rabbits.”

That’s how Emma expresses the world of possibility she discovers in this novel from Cynthia Lord.  What starts as a story about rescuing a rabbit turns into a rich, sensitive story about leaving a home-schooled past and assimilating to actual school in 5th grade.

“Excited is way ahead, but Scared is coming on strong.”

That’s how Emma expresses her emotions as she prepares to face the new environment of school.  Naturally Emma has some ups and downs making friends.  Her best friend turns out to be Jack – a mildly autistic boy who knows a ton about animals.  Emma likes that – but is naturally concerned that such specialized, esoteric mastery is considered weird by her new peers.

“It happened once…”

That’s how Emma’s grandfather – Pépère – begins his enchanting, lesson-filled stories about the trickster rabbit, M. Lapin.  Emma also receives sensitive and winning support from her older brother, Owen.  It is refreshing to read about an older sibling who has not just moved onto his own life, but is still sympathetic and attuned to the psychological sensitivity of his younger sister.  Owen offers valuable support helping Emma paint inspiration stones to help her at school.  “Keep going.”

“You are a wascally rabbit!”

Jack and Emma know how to quote Elmer Fudd, but the biggest concern for Emma is the fate of her rescued rabbit, Lapi.  Not only does she have to care for Lapi – which is easy as her father is the game warden – but she must also determine if Lapi has a former owner.  This turns out to be a dicey ethical question as naturally Emma wants to find a way to keep him.

“Different makes life more interesting.”

Cynthia Lord is the author of the rich and sensitive Read to Them title, Rules, and Because of the Rabbit is likely to appeal to an even broader, younger set of readers – making it in ideal Sweet Spot title in our canon.

As Pépère concludes every M. Lapin story…

“And so it was.”