for the pessimist and for the optimist in each of us

by Jeff Mack - Chronicle Books, 2012
ages 0 to 8 years / funny

There are exactly four words in this book—good, bad, news and very! But they tell a super story.

There's a hopelessly optimistic rabbit and an equally hopelessly pessimistic mouse who are about to share a picnic.

Through a series of misadventures, the rabbit stays upbeat and the mouse stays miserable.

Until it all finally becomes too much for the rabbit, who sinks into despair.

But, right about then, the mouse has a change of heart too – all that optimism has finally rubbed off! And things reverse: the mouse lifts the spirits of the rabbit.

This is a great story for beginning readers – four words and a predictable pattern coupled with a really fun story make it a great confidence booster. There’s plenty of room for expression and funny voices too.

One of the things I love about reading this book to young-ish children is that some identify with the rabbit and others with the mouse—it's very funny to watch. And the great thing is that there are lessons for each of them. 

The mouse learns to look on the bright side and the rabbit learns that sometimes life is rotten for a while. 

The friendship between the rabbit and the mouse is a good model too. They have different opinions about pretty much everything, they live in different places, they even get mad at each other, but they are friends all the same and that’s the very good news for both of them.

The pictures are great – they add to the story. The wide eyed optimism of the rabbit and the deepening cynicism of the mouse are made clearer and funnier through the illustrations. I especially love the page where the mouse finally sees something as good news.

A pillar of light awakens the mouse to the rabbit’s optimistic point of view. The surprise and delight on the face of the mouse is brilliant!

Adults and teenagers will get a kick out of this story too—it’s funny and I suspect we can all see a bit of rabbit and a bit of mouse in ourselves (it's tagged for babies through to 8 year olds but really, anyone will enjoy it).

One last thing—because there are only four words, and because rabbit and mouse are animals and don’t wear gendered clothes, there's no reason to assume one gender over the other for either character. But most kids (and adults too) will do just that – there’s an interesting discussion to be had about why we do do that.