Lisa Doucet Reviews Lori Doody’s Mr. Beagle Goes to Rabbittown
Mr. Beagle Goes to Rabbittown
Running the Goat Books & Broadsides
When Mr. Beagle decides to set up shop in Rabbittown, business at his convenience store is not exactly brisk. The bunnies of Rabbittown, a likeable and friendly bunch generally speaking, are not entirely sure what to make of their new neighbour.
But when mittens start mysteriously disappearing, Mr. Beagle has plenty of time on his hands and “a good nose for sniffing out trouble.” As he scours the town for clues, his investigative efforts lead to another recent newcomer, Tom Cat, who had disguised himself as a bunny in order to fit in.
With the mystery solved, and the citizens of Rabbittown happy to help Tom Cat in his ongoing quest for mittens (for his three little kittens, of course), Mr. Beagle and the Cat clan find themselves warmly welcomed into their new home at last.
Lori Doody’s latest picture-book offering provides all the warmth and whimsy that fans of her work have come to expect and cherish. The story is spare and simply told but not too subtle to convey vital messages about acceptance, being yourself and the importance of community.
True to form, the illustrations tell their own story with bold, bright colours and delicate, dark outlines. Each page is precise and detailed (including the delightful endpapers), featuring a flat perspective that lends itself well to the understated tone of the tale. Together, words and images radiate a cheerful energy and optimism that will delight children and adults alike in this playful, quirky tale.
Without feeling didactic or heavy handed, the residents of Rabbittown learn a valuable lesson about inclusion, which leads to a deeply satisfying ending whereby Rabbittown had become “a neighbourhood where any bunny, dog, cat, mouse, squirrel or fox could find new friends and warm mittens.”
Who wouldn’t want to live there?
Lisa Doucet is the co-manager of Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax. She shares her passion for children’s and young-adult books as our young readers editor and book reviewer.