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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Bardur Oskarsson
Age Range: 6-8
One day while Dog and Rat are out for a walk they come across a flattened white rabbit on the road. “She is as flat as a pancake,” says Rat. For a while, they just stand there and look at her. “Do you know her?” asks Rat. “Not really,” says Dog. “I think she’s from number 34. I’ve never talked to her, but I’ve peed on the gate a couple of times, so we’ve definitely met. ” The two friends agree that lying there can’t be much fun. They feel sad but don’t know what to do. She needs to be moved but how are they going to do this? And where can they take her? Eventually, Dog comes up with an ingenious plan.
Award-winning Faroese artist, author and illustrator Bárđur Oskarsson’s thoughtful story, translated by Marita Thomsen, tackles a serious subject with sensitivity and wit. His style of minimalist storytelling combined with the comical cartoon-like pen and ink and watercolour wash artwork in a muted palette creates a rawness enveloped in humour. He uses perspective to great effect showing vast empty spaces and big skylines as well as emphasising the significant difference in the size of Dog and Rat as they interact together.
The kindness and compassion shown by Dog and Rat as they find an unusual way to honour the life of their departed friend is endearing. “Do you think she is having a good time?” Rat finally asked, not looking at Dog. The dog tried to imagine what the world would look like from up there. “I don’t know…” he replied slowly. “I don’t know.”
Oskarsson’s sympathetic approach to the concept of death demonstrates that we don’t have all the answers. Flat Rabbit is an ideal book for parents, carers, and teachers to begin those difficult conversations about death and the hereafter.
Other Oskarsson titles reviewed on the website are: Dog, Cat and Mouse, The Tree, Wilbert, The Battle for the Good Grass and Paul, the Cool Giraffe.