We conclude this month’s exploration of picture books that put emotions front and center with The Rabbit Listened, a book that explores the many unique ways we each have for expressing our emotions and the healing power of a friend who can truly see and hear what we need.
PATRICIA: The book The Rabbit Listened posits that there are different responses to emotions such as anger, frustration, pride, among others. The author/illustrator, Cori Doerrfeld, invites the reader to reflect on the many possibilities to what and how we feel, from different perspectives. When Taylor’s masterpiece is destroyed, each animal suggests a unique response, such as the hyena who wants to find the humor in the disaster, the ostrich who thinks they should just forget about it and the snake who suggests revenge. When the rabbit slowly moves closer to Taylor a different emotion sparks. Taylor feels safe through the closeness and warmth of the rabbit and as the rabbit listens carefully Taylor begins to process their emotions and finds a way to move forward.
Once again, this book made me reflect on vulnerability and how stories like these can show children that being vulnerable is not just okay, but often necessary. Being vulnerable can help clear our minds, plan and make decisions. Moreover, we need people next to us we can count on, to feel warmth and safety with. Sometimes closeness, hugs, and a listening ear say more than words. Has anyone felt the same way as Taylor?
DOREA: Like Taylor’s block tower, it seems like many structures are falling and crashing around us each day and I’m desperately missing hugs and all that they can “say”.
As an early childhood teacher educator, there were so many things that I loved about this book. While the book is written for our youngest of learners with its soft pictures and minimal words on each page, the message is loud and strong, even in its gentleness. Like all of our books this month, The Rabbit Listens normalizes the presence of emotions–that we all have them, they may look and sound different from others’ feelings and that it’s important to show them. This is a common theme, especially in books for young children.
What I found so compelling was the permission to try out a range of emotions and to have someone stand beside you while you do so–even when the outcomes are loud and messy. Not only does Taylor get to witness how others respond, but they get to try each of these responses on, to figure out what feels right for them and when they are ready to engage with them.
In this time of so much uncertainty, our usual ways of processing and coping aren’t always available. Perhaps Taylor and Rabbit offer us some new ways of moving forward in these coming months: to lean into the discomfort, to try out some new ways of feeling and responding and to provide some safety and warmth so that others can do the same.
Title: The Rabbit Listened
Author: Cori Doerrfeld
Illustrator: Cori Doerrfeld
Publisher: Dial Books
PubDate: February 20, 2018
Throughout October 2020, Dorea Kleker and Patricia Castrodad give their takes on picturebooks that contain a theme of Emotions. Check back each Wednesday to follow the conversation!