The Rabbit Listened (2019) – Cori Doerrfeld

Title:The Rabbit Listened
Author:Cori Doerrfeld
Publisher/s:Scallywag Press/Jonathan Ball Publishers
Date of publication:2019
Star Rating:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Disclaimer:Jonathan Ball Publishers kindly sent me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Cori Doerrfeld’s The Rabbit Listened manages to not only teach an extraordinary lesson to children, but also reminds the adult reader of the power of empathy. In this beautifully illustrated book we are introduced to a little child named Taylor (whose gender is not revealed) who has built a tower of blocks in the shape of an epic castle. Taylor is really proud of the blocks, and stands back to admire them. Suddenly a flock of black birds swoop down and knock down all of the blocks Taylor lovingly put together.

Devastated and disappointed Taylor is visited by a series of animal friends who only want to help Taylor feel better. Taylor is first visited by the chicken who thought Taylor wanted to talk about it, but Taylor didn’t want to talk, and so the chicken went on it’s way. The next to visit was the bear who thought Taylor wanted to shout about it, but Taylor didn’t like shouting, and so the bear left. The elephant thought that Taylor might like to remember the way the tower of blocks once was, but Taylor was not interested in remembering, and so the elephant also left. After the elephant came the kangaroo, and then the hyena, then the ostrich and even the snake. All the animals tried to help Taylor, but they grew tired and left because Taylor was not interested in doing anything about it with them. They left Taylor alone, and alone Taylor sat, until Taylor was no longer alone.

The rabbit came along and instead of suggesting anything that it thought might help Taylor, the rabbit simply sat quietly and listened. The rabbit listened as Taylor sat quietly, and listened when Taylor chose to talk, and cry, and shout, and feel all the feelings as they appeared. For Taylor it was simply okay that the rabbit was just there, and after that the first drops of hope began to form.

The lesson learned is not only empathy, it is also patience and selflessness. It is letting someone’s grief find its own way, and it is about simply being present for someone, even if it doesn’t seem as though you’re doing anything at all. Sometimes just being there is enough. One of the most poignant and deeply important children’s books I have ever read.

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