Ten Little Rabbits
"A magical treasure of a book . . ."
Maurice Sendak is one of the best-known children's book writers for a good reason. His stories continue to engage young readers, enduring classics that belong in every library. What a treasure to find this previously unpublished story, complete with illustrations! Astute readers will recognize the boy that appears in Nutshell Library as well as in other Sendak titles, a stand-in, one suspects, for Sendak himself.
In Ten Little Rabbits the boy is a proud magician, pulling rabbits from his hat. The only problem is that the rabbits climb all over the boy, pulling his ears and legs. As the reader counts from one rabbit up to ten of the little creatures, they take over the story—and the boy. Until he does what only a magician can do and makes them disappear again, one by one. As the reader counts down, the boy recovers his calm. He finishes his trick with a proud bow and strides off the page, free of any paws on his back, legs, or head.
The book is both a fun counting lesson and a story of unintended consequences. The magician hopes for one effect and ends up with something quite different. Sendak, as always, revels in the chaotic, in wild behavior that the adult world discourages. Only this time, it's the child who insists on calm order, a wonderful change from the usual, expected role.
The clean page design with a limited color palette used only on the rabbits makes the energetic frenzy even clearer. The boy's expressive face tells the story better than any words could do. Numbers counting up to ten, then back down again are the only text on the page until the very end. With the rabbits all back in the hat, we come to "None." And as the boy walks off with a wave, we're "All done."
Combining reading and math into one book so seamlessly is a neat trick in itself. A magical treasure of book, Ten Little Rabbits will have kids counting up to ten and back again over and over and over again.