Children's Bookshelf: Mrs. White Rabbit

Oct 30, 2017

This week on the Children's Bookshelf, Dr. Sue Ann Martin reviews "Mrs. White Rabbit" by Gilles Bachelet. She recommends it for children ages 8 to 10.

Mrs. White Rabbit written and illustrated by Gilles Bachelet takes place down that famous rabbit hole to the home of Mr. and Mrs. White Rabbit. But, make no mistake, this story is from Mrs. Rabbit’s point of view. She wants to be a writer and should have that opportunity. But, Mr. White Rabbit is not much help as he is always late and running off with his pocket watch.

Children acquainted with the Lewis Carroll classic will appreciate the satiric fun revealed in the spectacular illustrations.  They will also enjoy meeting newly- imagined characters, namely, Mrs. White Rabbit and the six children including teenager Beatrix who wants to be a model, Betty who is reluctantly starting kindergarten, mischievous twins George and Gilbert, young Elliot and, of course, baby Emily.  There is also a girl who changes her physical size from very small to extremely big who drops in now and then.  

The opportunities for visual literacy are limitless.  The picture of Betty in her classroom on the first day of school is a symphony of Lewis Carroll chaos with Humpty Dumpty pontificating from the front row as the Dormouse makes notes and Tweedledum and Tweedledee fight in the back row as the Caterpillar eats his book!

Mrs. White Rabbit written and illustrated by Gilles Bachelet will engage children 8-10 years of age and up who are familiar with Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece (Eerdmans Books, 2017). This is Sue Ann Martin for The Children’s Bookshelf.

Questions and Activities for Mrs. White Rabbit

Study the illustration of Betty’s new classroom and play an I Spy Game by finding the following fifteen items: an apple, a chart of mushrooms, a green top hat, an owl, a teapot, a violin, a turtle reading a newspaper, cards playing cards, a tube of lipstick, a yellow hoop, a broken window, a paper airplane, a cup of tea, a spilled inkwell and a sculpture of a Jabberwocky. They are all there.

The classroom also has a portrait of John Tenniel. Do you see him? He is the illustrator of the 1865 novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Find a group of original illustrations online or in the library and study them. Parents and teachers can assist you if needed. How are Tenniel’s drawings different from Gilles Bachelet’s illustrations for Mrs. White Rabbit?  What is your favorite Bachelet illustration? Why?

Referring to the 1865 novel think about the following questions as urged by the Bachelet illustrations: What is the significance of photographer C. L. Dodgson’s name as shown in the window of his studio in the business district where Mrs. Rabbit goes shopping for hat? Why are there flamingoes and hedgehogs in the window of the sporting store? Who is talking to Alice and about what? Why are the hats being sold for mad prices? Which hat is truly mad?