Friday, April 14, 2006

Review: First Tomato

Nothing to write about, so a little more Bunny Planet, from the archives

First Tomato written and illustrated by Rosemary Wells. Dial, 1992 (0-8037-1175-1) Note: this book is out of print, but is still available as part of the three volume set, Voyage to the Bunny Planet. Dial, 2003 (0-6700-3663-3) $16.99

This is my favorite of the three "Bunny Planet" books, a series of gentle fantasies for anyone who's ever had a bad day. Rabbit-girl Claire has had a very bad day. Her shoes filled with snow on the way to school, math went on for two hours, and once again the bus was late. Claire needs a visit to the Bunny Planet. So in her thoughts she goes: "Far beyond the moon and stars, Twenty light-years south of Mars, Spins the gentle Bunny Planet/And the Bunny Queen is Janet."

Janet, a large, motherly rabbit, shows her the day that should have been, in which Claire describes, changing to a first-person, rhyming narrative, picking vegetables for her mother and finding the very first ripe tomato. She is tempted by its "fat, red smell," but unselfishly saves it for her mother. And she is rewarded: "I hear my mother calling when the summer winds blow, 'I've made you First Tomato soup because I love you so."

After her visit to the Bunny Planet, Claire's warm bus comes at last, and she goes happily home, seeing the Bunny Planet, "near the evening star in the snowy sky."

The change in narrative structure makes each visit to the Bunny Planet a special little story. I love this one for its affectionate glimpse of the richness and wonder of a garden, shown in words and in the bliss on Claire's face as she breathes in the smell of "rain and steamy earth and hot June sun." * (2 & up)