That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown

emily

Written by Cressida Cowell, Illustrated by Neal Layton

Hyperion Books for Children, 2006

Once upon a time, there was a little girl called Emily Brown and an old gray rabbit called Stanley. One day, Emily Brown and Stanley were launching themselves into outer space to look for alien life-forms when there was a rat-a-tat-tat! at the kitchen door. It was the Chief Footman to the Queen. He said, “The Queen has very kindly noticed your rabbit. She would like to have that Bunnywunny.”

Smart girl that Emily Brown is, she says no thank you. (And pointedly reminds the imposing Footman that her rabbit’s name is Stanley, not “Bunnywunny.”)

She sticks to her “no,” even when she’s offered a brand-new golden teddy bear, ten talking dolls that say, “Mama, Mama,” fifty rocking horses that rock forever, and all the toys she could ever desire. The more exasperated Emily Brown grows with the Queen’s persistence, the more insistent the Queen becomes to acquire Stanley for her own. When the Queen steals Stanley away one dark night, Emily Brown marches straight up to the Palace on the Hill to get her beloved furry companion back — but manages some compassion for the silly (and lonely) Queen while she’s there. Cowell’s dialogue is a happy meal of sweetness, truth and silliness, and although I can’t stand Oscar and Arabella, Layton’s illustrations here are both visually eye-catching and full of tiny, hilarious details which deserve a second, third and fourteenth look. (And I mean in a row.)

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