Just Look Around: Sato the Rabbit, One Boy Watching, and The Boy Who Loved Maps

These picture books, Sato the Rabbit, One Boy Watching, and The Boy Who Loved Maps, are about using imagination and paying attention.

Sato the Rabbit by Yuki Ainoya, translated by Michael Blaskowsky. Enchanted Lion, 2021, 59 pages.

Reading level: Picture Book, ages 4-8

Recommended for: ages 3-7

“One day, Hanero Sato became a rabbit. He’s been a rabbit ever since.” Sato is a curious sort who likes all kinds of things, but donning a rabbit suit helps him wonder about things he’s never wondered before. Such as, where does the water from his garden hose come from? The answer can be found by following the garden hose to a small pond “that is blowing water into the hose as hard as it can.” Who would have thought? Other discoveries are in store: wet sheets become sails, stars can be gathered like fireflies and a watermelon makes a dandy boat as well as a delicious treat.

This happy little tale is about opening eyes to wonder–rabbit suits are optional. The point is stretching imagination and following where it leads. Literal-minded kids may not get Sato, but they might still be charmed by him. I certainly was.

Note: Sato the Rabbit was a Mildred Batchelder honor book in this year’s ALA Youth Media Awards. The Batchelder award is given for books not originally published in English. It’s the first of three Sato books.

Overall Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)

Worldview/moral value: 3.5Artistic/literary value: 5

One Boy Watching by Grant Snyder. Chronicle, 2022, 54 pages

Reading Level: Picture Book, ages 0-4

Recommended for: ages 2-5

“One bus rise at sunrise, under an infinite sky.”

At 7 a.m. under a gaudy dawn, one boy boards Bus #4 to school. What is there to see? Plenty. He has the bus to himself as it rolls through the rural landscape and he notices everything: one gnarled tree, three quiet deer, four rusty cars . . . and one by, daydreaming. The bus ride is ordinary—same stops, same kids, same railroad crossing, same bump in the road that makes the kids at the rear jump. It’s the watching and noticing that makes things extraordinary. Bright colors and swirly crayon illustrations should make little ones take notice and might even inspire a little purposeful watching on your next car trip.

Overall Rating: 4.25

Worldview/moral value: 3.5Artistic/literary value: 4.5

The Boy Who Loved Maps by Kari Allen, illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Anne Schwartz Books (Penguin Random House, 2022, 44 pages.

Reading Level: Picture Book, ages 4-8

Recommended for: ages 4-8

“Everyone called him ‘the Mapmaker.’” In his treehouse office, with ruler and pen, “He drew cities with their grid-like lines and countries with their squiggly borders and the continents that held them both.” One day a girl climbs to his treehouse to make a special request. She wants a map of the perfect, toes-in-the-sand warm place. His ideas don’t strike her as exactly right, so they take a walk together. Exploring their own neighborhood, from the library to the bakers to the park reveals more and more perfection until their search ends at the girl’s own house. And that’s it: together they draw a map of home.

The simple story is complemented by crayon drawings that feature (of course) lots of maps. An appendix features a brief glossary of mapping terms and suggestions for drawing your own. There’s no better way to pay attention to one’s surroundings than mapping it, and this book is bound to inspire most readers to give it a try.

Overall Rating: 4

Worldview/moral value: 3.5Artistic/literary value: 4.5

Read more about our ratings here.                 

Also at Redeemed Reader:

Reviews: Two middle-grade novels: Pay Attention Carter Jones is about what the title says, and Somebody on This Bus Is Going to Be Famous (both starred reviews) follows nine riders through the school year.Reviews: For the picture-book crowd, see our “Ordinary Wonders” roundup and our review of A Year of Everyday Wonders.Review: Another middle-grade novel, The Last Mapmaker.

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