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.
Title: 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.
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?