Title: Rabbit and the Motorbike
Author: Kate Hoefler/Sarah Jacoby
Illustrator: Kate Hoefler
Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2019
Themes: courage, travel, friendship, grief, expanding horizons, loss
Rabbit isn’t sure he’ll ever be brave enough to go on an adventure. He’s a homebody who lives in a quiet field of wheat he dreams of leaving every night. His world is enlarged by his friend Dog and Dog’s tales of motorbike adventures. But one day, Dog is gone, and with him, go the stories Rabbit loves so much. Dare Rabbit pick up the motorbike and live his own story? This timeless fable of the journey from grief to acceptance will touch every reader. For those confronting loss and those eager to explore and experience, Rabbit’s bravery in the face of sadness will console, nurture, and inspire.
Rabbit lived in a quiet field of wheat that he never left–not even once–even though there was a road. And even though he dreamed he did every night.
Why I like this Book:
Rabbit and Dog have a sweet and complimentary friendship. Dog has lived a life of motorbike exploration, always on the road meeting new people and discovering new places but always returning to visit his quiet best friend Rabbit with whom he shares his travel exploits. The sharing has to be pretty intimate as Rabbit always feels as though wherever Dog had been, ‘Rabbit had been right there with him”.
In a sad and moving double-paged spread early on, we understand that Dog has died and Rabbit’s world has gone quiet. He is left with memories and the old motorbike bequeathed to him. The motorbike becomes a silent companion, a kind of reminder of Dog, though Rabbit begins to worry that his life is too quiet for the bike. These are really tender moments of grief where text and pictures will touch the readers’ hearts with the bittersweetness of memories.
In a poignant moment, after Rabbit has sat a long time with his grief and loss and hopes, the open road by his wheat field calls to him. In this moment, which has been subtly building, he makes a brave and joyful decision to follow in his friend’s footsteps and make some adventures of his own. As more of a Dog myself, I always hope to inspire my Rabbit friends who tell me they live vicariously through my trips to take their own one day. It doesn’t have to be far at all, just beyond the wheat field.
Hoefler’s story fills your heart up–with longing, with companionship, with loss, with courage. It is tender and and somehow the illustrator manages to convey both its weightiness and lightness with her beautiful brushwork and color. Picking up one’s life after losing a dear friend takes tremendous courage and I hope in this story is widely read but that it especially falls into young hands that need this timeless tale. And let’s keep sharing our stories with each other, for they have a power of intimacy.
This book would pair very well with Brian Lies’ The Rough Patch, or Jessixa Bagley’s A Boat for Papa.
Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.