Some books don't conform. The ever-changing Rules of Writing dictate that children's books should have a problem or conflict, solved by the protagonist. We're told that publishers frown on anthropomorphism, and rabbits don't wear clothes. Maybelle, Bunny of the North is more a slice of life story than one that centres around a conflict, and Maybelle herself wears several cute outfits dictated by the seasons.
Unfashionable though I'm told it is, I confess to a soft spot for stories about animals. One of my earliest childhood memories is also a story about a rabbit - Pookie Puts the World Right, by Ivy Wallace, had a winged rabbit in baggy blue pants. In Maybelle, Bunny of the North, the action takes place in Homer, Alaska. As the seasons change, so do Maybelle's activities. Whether building snowmen, playing on the slide, or looking for moose in the fireweed, Maybelle is a friendly bunny who always has time to say hiya to her fellow Alaskans.
The illustrations are what grabbed me in this picture book. Author/illustrator Keith Patterson has used watercolour and ink in a naive style to produce totally charming vignettes of Maybelle's life. The visual text adds much to the story, so that kids will notice similarities and differences between their own lives and Maybelle's. New publisher, Bee's Knees Books have done a great job with the publishing/printing - the book is hard back, with quality paper and a nice solid feel.
The visual appeal and gentle story makes Maybelle, Bunny of the North a nice bedtime book. I think it would also make a good resource for younger grades when teaching themes like seasons, global connections, and how climate affects lifestyle. A good follow-up activity after reading and discussing the story, would be to use the book as a model for children's own journals, encouraging them to write about how their activities change with the seasons.