PB 14:14 Day 10 – The Flat Rabbit

Yesterday, I read the book The Flat Rabbit for the first time.  And the second.  And third.  It is one of the strangest books I’ve ever read.  It may not be for everyone, but I happen to love strange. Plus, I found it not just strange, but strangely beautiful.  For today’s Picture Books 14:14 Challenge, I’ll be looking at The Flat Rabbit‘s unique plot.

Flat RabbitTitle: The Flat Rabbit

Author & Illustrator: Bardur Oskarsson

Translator: Marita Thomsen

Publisher: Owlkids Books, 2014

The Flat Rabbit follows the traditional plot triangle, with an introduction, rising action, climax, and resolution.  But it is more emotion-driven than action-driven.

A dog and a rat separately stumble upon a flattened rabbit in the road.  They take a moment pondering her and feeling quite sad about the situation. The rat says,

Lying there can’t be any fun.

They feel moved to do something with the rabbit, but they don’t know what.  They’re worried about how it might look to carry a flattened rabbit back to her apartment. They’re distressed something might find and eat her.  The rising action is really their increasing concern without knowing what to do about it.

The dog was now so deep in thought that, had you put your ear to his skull, you would have actually heard him racking his brain.

Finally, he comes up with the solution, and rat helps him make it happen (because, as they discover, it’s actually quite difficult, adding some suspense to the climax).  The dog and the rat carefully lift the flattened rabbit off the road, tape her to a kite they had spent the night constructing, and fly her high up above the park.

“Do you think she is having a good time?” the rat finally asked, without looking at the dog.

The dog doesn’t know, but he offers the rat a turn to hold the kite.

Flat Rabbit 3

Now, there’s no question that prying up some road kill and taping it to a kite is a weird thing to do, and maybe even a bit controversial to write into a children’s story.  But perhaps that is just my reaction from growing up in a society where death is treated as something only to be sad about and otherwise avoided as much as possible, both in conversation and in actual experience.  Really though, how sweet that these two animal strangers were kind enough not to avoid death, but to set the rabbit soaring as a final send-off.

The final spread is an overhead image of the city with a bird flying over the buildings.  Perhaps the dead rabbit’s view from the kite, having a good time?  Or has the rabbit actually transformed into that now-living bird?  Or maybe the dog and the rat have helped the rabbit reach the heavens?

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12 Comments

Filed under Picture Books

12 responses to “PB 14:14 Day 10 – The Flat Rabbit

  1. I thought the flattened rabbit was (almost) roadkill. This really is an unusual book. Am curious and will have to check it out.

  2. ManjuBeth

    The Flat Rabbit deals with death in an usual way. I think it’s awesome. However, I would not share this PB with my 4yo nephew.

  3. Wow, really unusual indeed.

  4. You’re right: this is strange!

  5. Haha, I love all of your reactions. Thanks for being polite about my weird taste! Although this unusual approach to the subject of death might not be for everyone, I do really think that it’s something we need to talk about with kids. The kids I work with are always incredibly curious about death, and because it’s such a delicate subject, they don’t always get the space to talk about it. Let’s not let violent video games be the only place where they get to engage with this topic. 🙂

  6. Christie Wright Wild

    That is strange. Roadkill, that is. Not death. I think you’re right. Perhaps this book will provide some opportunities for some kids to express their thoughts and feelings about the subject.

    One of the strangest PBs I’ve ever read is Shivers in the Fridge. It’s a story that takes place inside the refrigerator. Not in the same league as death, but it is still intriguing.

  7. Pingback: PB 14:14 Day 11 – Doug Unplugged | Laura Boffa: Write of Way

  8. Laura, glad you shared this. I think some ‘out of the ordinary’ picture books do have places they can be useful. As a former educator, I know I can’t assume that all children’s experiences are ‘average’ or ‘normal.’ I can quickly think of kids for whom this might be meaningful in some way, related to an intimate loss of a loved one or help someone understand death.
    (And road kill in southeast Arkansas — a normal understanding for almost every child.)

    • Thanks for sharing those thoughts, Damon. It’s true, you really can’t make assumptions about kids’ experiences or the ways that they connect with things. The books that kids are drawn to are often really surprising to me, and even when I know a child well, they sometimes completely shock me with what book they want to hear again and again!

  9. well, that’s definitely an original approach to the subject

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