The Rabbit Listened by C. Doerrfeld
Doerrfeld, Cori. The Rabbit Listened. Dial-Penguin Random House, 2018.
This picture book, both written and illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld, is a lovely book for encouraging listening skills and overall calm in children aged 1-5. As the implicit meaning can run very deep, adults would also benefit from the messaging. It is about a young girl, a toddler named Taylor, who is grieving. At the beginning of the story, Taylor is in her comfy pyjamas and has just finished building a substantial wooden block tower. It then comes crashing down, providing a strong, simple, and non-threatening metaphor to the adversities of everyday life.
As a result, Taylor is very sad and would like to express her feelings in a certain way, yet she is unsure of what way that is or is unable to articulate her emotion. Several different types of animals come by to try to cheer her up. A chicken tries to get her to talk (and will not be quiet), a bear tries to get her to shout (displaying anger), etc. The variety of animals chosen is wonderful symbolism that kids can relate to and are a great visual metaphor for feelings. At the end of the story, Taylor realizes she just wants to be alone and be quiet. The rabbit was the only animal to recognize this. The rabbit just listened.
The story includes soft, calm, and simple crayon-type illustrations that are so cute, they are almost tactile. The background of each page is stark white, placing the focus of the story solely on the characters. This book would appeal to just about anyone reflecting on their feelings during a time of loss, difficulty, or even trauma. As some of the less obvious metaphors would be lost on a younger audience, this book is a great stepping stone to begin and facilitate conversations between children and adults about feelings and how to cope with challenging life circumstances.
Highly recommended: 4 out of 5 stars
Reviewer: Rachel Radmanovich
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