My next book in this New Favorites Picture Book countdown is one of the sweetest books I’ve ever met. A story about frustration, well-meaning friends, and the best way to truly be a friend. Warm your heart with The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld, 2018.

What is it about?

The book begins with Taylor deciding to build something. “Something amazing.” Taylor is filled with pride. And then disaster strikes. The whole thing, all of Taylor’s hard work, is destroyed. A chicken comes along and immediately wants to talk Taylor through it. Taylor doesn’t feel like talking. So the chicken leaves.

This pattern continues with animal friend after animal friend coming with great intentions, trying to help Taylor, and then leaving when their efforts are undesired and they feel unappreciated. A bear wants to help Taylor be angry about it, the hyena wants to have a good laugh, the snake wants revenge… so many ideas how to help – and Taylor wants none of it. Taylor continues in sadness alone until a rabbit quietly comes along. The rabbit does nothing but move close to Taylor. Silence and just sitting together. Eventually, Taylor talked. Taylor shouted. Taylor goes through all the emotions everyone wanted to help feel, but the rabbit does nothing… but listen. And that’s exactly what Taylor needed, to feel better, and to fix everything.

Why I picked it

I am completely blown away by Doerrfeld’s ability to craft such a heartfelt, interesting, beautiful, and educational story! This book is packed with an incredibly powerful lesson, but it doesn’t hit you over the head with it. Just like the animals tried too hard to fix Taylor’s situation and failed; when a book works too hard to teach a lesson or moral, it always fails. No one likes to be forced to feel things. I am so touched by the way Doerrfeld presents a sweet story about the concept of how sometimes people just need a listening ear.

And her illustrations are the perfect addition. White space abounds in this book. There are actually only 3 pages with a colorful backdrop to the story. This is really difficult to execute well, and Doerrfeld succeeds spectacularly. Taylor and all the characters are adorable. And they carry the story just fine with the blocks alone. No backdrop needed. The story revolves around feelings and the white space gives them all the space they need. I also love how the animals chosen for the different attempted solutions seem to fit their solution perfectly. A chatty chicken, an angry bear, a sneaky snake… so well-planned.

Who will love this?

This book is absolutely for everyone. The lesson of listening has no age-limit. And the book is so well executed, it doesn’t feel too simple or too young. It is sweet, beautifully laid out, and cleverly created.

Bonus Gift Pairings

So what goes well with a book about being a listening friend? Sadly, when I was thinking about this and researching, I found more items joking about not listening. We somehow seem to think it is funny to not be listening well. We need this book around more than ever apparently! One idea I found is this shirt which is holiday-themed and pretty funny in my opinion. (Only adult sizes unfortunately.) And because I’m a total Frasier nerd, I love this mug. Ha! I would most likely pair this book gift with a super soft stuffed bunny like this one or this wee little one! Another great book to go with this one, that also fits the bunny theme and has a slightly different but related version of being a great friend is this Mo Willems gem: Cat the Cat Who Says That?

Come back tomorrow for the next book from this year in my 25 Days of Favorite New Picture Books countdown!