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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

A boy, a birthday, and a fresh take on a bunny book

November 18, 2013

Books always make terrific gifts, but it's possible that kids don't always like the books adults think are charming. A recent book brings that point home with laugh out loud humor. Plus a book that makes even experienced readers check twice to make sure that it has been untouched by an aspiring child-artist. I have read, reread, guffawed, and shared with lots of friends — experienced and inexperienced readers — one such book. Battle Bunny (Simon & Schuster) is the result of collaboration between two creative, talented, thoughtful, and offbeat, sometimes irreverent book creators whose work continues to push the envelope and always engaging young readers. What happens to the tale of a sweet birthday bunny at the hands of Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett? It's sure to delight and surprise readers of all ages. A sweet, handwritten inscription from "Gran Gran" to Alexander appears on the title page. Clearly, the story of the doe-eyed bunny is too sugary for Alexander who, with a pencil, adapts the book art to create a battle worthy of the toughest forest critters. Think 'Golden Book illustration' meets 'third grade boy combat art.' Young readers, parents, and educators are invited to follow up with a visit to a website where there are links to allow artists (or other sweet birthday bunny detractors) to adapt their own art as well as ways to incorporate the book into a curriculum. It's funny and fresh — and makes an interesting commentary on the disparity between adult and kids' penchants.

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