Cottons: The Secret of the Wind /  Cottons: The White Rabbit by Jim Pascoe, illustrated by Heidi Arnhold

814LKSxlcIL._AC_UY218_ML3_Cottons: The Secret of the Wind (9781250309433, 2020) /  Cottons: The White Rabbit (9781626720619, 2020) by Jim Pascoe, illustrated by Heidi Arnhold. First Second.

Format: Paperback; hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

91SJMQn-XZL._AC_UY218_ML3_Genre:  Fantasy

What did you like about the book? Gorgeous graphic art tells the story of a community of rabbits at war with foxes in a future world called Lavender. The rabbits must toil in a factory to produce “cha”, an energy source derived from carrots. For some, like the main character Bridgebelle, it is a source of creative expression. For others, it is a drug or a dangerous commodity that can summon evil spirits. Throughout the two books, Bridgebelle struggles to make her art in a community that is divided about how to use the cha. Her art, in the form of “thokchas”,  magical objects of beauty, becomes a drug-like commodity which divides the community and incites the foxes. The tone, in contrast with the images of pastoral beauty and adorable rabbits, is dark and urgent, with tension and violence just under the surface. Beautiful maps grace the endpapers.

Anything you didn’t like about it? There was so much mythology about the world that was unexplained that I had a hard time understanding what was going on. The first book has explanatory notes at the end which help a bit – I think a prologue would have worked better. The second book provides notes at the beginning, although I still don’t think it can stand alone. In addition, it is really hard to differentiate the rabbit characters, even though I made a color-coded chart for myself.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Violence, suicide, addiction and war make this more appropriate for older elementary school readers who are fans of dramatic high fantasy with animals, such as Brian Jacques’ Redwall.

Who should buy this book? Middle school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Graphic fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: March 25, 2020

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