Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny

Booklist (October 1, 2014 (Vol. 111, No. 3))
Grades 1-3. A prolific author and illustrator as well as an active practitioner of martial arts, Himmelman combines these interests in his latest book, a series starter starring a bunny named Isabel. Isabel is introduced as “the best bunjitsu artist in her school,” an expert in kicking, hitting, and throwing, who can also handle all of the paradoxes that Teacher sends her way. Isabel’s martial arts aren’t confined to the classroom, either—she also faces down some piratical foxes and turns an angry wave into one that lifts her up and transports her. There are some peculiar episodes in this early-reading book, including one in which Bear walks up to Isabel, engages in conversation, and then kicks Isabel across a field, flips her to the ground, and twists her “into a pretzel.” Isabel demonstrates how she doesn’t “give up” by kicking, flipping, and twisting Bear. The rest of the book is less cartoonish and violent in its exploration of Zenlike koans, and Himmelman’s black-and-white line drawings nicely convey Isabel’s swift and deft movements. We are ready for the sequel, Teacher.

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