Written and Illustrated by Jeff Mack
Chronicle Books, 2012
The plot in a nutshell: A rabbit and mouse see the good and bad in a picnic
Rabbit shows up with a picnic basket, which is good news. When the rain starts, Mouse declares it to be bad news. Rabbit produces an umbrella, but it blows away with Mouse into a nearby tree. Rabbit pulls a cake from his basket, but there’s a bee on it. He attempts to swat the bee, covering Mouse in frosting. This brings more bees, so they run into a cave for safety, until a bear chases them out. They climb a flagpole to escape the bear, but it gets hit by lightning, which singes them (but at least scares the bear away). Mouse screams that it’s been almost all bad news and Rabbit, who has been finding the good in every situation, starts to cry over the bad news. The sun comes out and Mouse brings the picnic basket back, suggesting that the news might be good again. The two friends share a hug.
I imagine a lot of people make the natural comparison between this book and Remy Charlip’s classic, Fortunately, which flips back and forth between good events and bad events. Author/illustrator Jeff Mack brings a whole lot more to the table with this story, though, which isn’t really about occurrences that are good or bad at all. The story truly focuses on the perceptions of the two characters and the ways that optimistic and pessimistic people see the world around them. Rabbit continually looks on the bright side of every situation they find themselves in, while Mouse always finds something bad to point out.
The mixed media artwork alternates between pictures of the characters against a white background and pictures of them in a scene with a full color background and additional details, but Mr. Mack mixes it up, so sometimes the good news gets the full color treatment and other times it’s the bad news that does. He shows us how Mouse’s negativity eventually gets the best of Rabbit, showing the effect that our perceptions can have on others around us. But then, we have a great moment when I feel that Mouse realizes that converting Rabbit to pessimism isn’t really the result he wanted at all and I love that this realization is accompanied by light breaking through a cloud. This book would be an easy and fun read to share with your kids.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that there’s good and bad news all around you and sometimes it’s up to you where you want to focus.