The Rabbit, the Dark and the Biscuit Tin by Nicola O’Byrne

The Rabbit, the Dark and the Biscuit Tin by Nicola O'Byrne book cover

The Rabbit, the Dark and the Biscuit Tin by Nicola O’Byrne (author)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m increasingly falling in love with books that are a little bit strange. I think we tend to search for the level in children’s literature; we look for the planes that can help us understand these strange small creatures in the world and, in turn, to help them understand the strange, wild world about them. The Rabbit, the Dark and the Biscuit Tin that does that with bells on but it does that whilst never forgetting that essential strangeness that is the world.

It is, essentially, a book about being afraid of the dark. Rabbit is scared of the Dark and so he captures it in a biscuit tin. The Dark explains that it isn’t scary – it is, in fact, very important to the world. And in one page, where Rabbit opens the biscuit tin, the Dark becomes nothing short of magical in an exuberant, beautifully rendered fold out.

Softly strange, deliciously weird and intensely heartfelt; this is a book that tells little ones that it’s okay to be scared of something but you must learn to understand that fear. You must learn to understand their feelings as much as your own. It’s big stuff this, asking for empathy with something as magnificently other as darkness, but Nicola O’Byrne handles it well. Her spreads sing with character; Rabbit dominates his pages with movement, life and vitality. There’s also some subtle work here about the idea of balance; Rabbit is alone and then, in the Dark, he isn’t. He meets baby fox cubs and bats and owls and a whole world that relies on the Dark to make it happen.

I’d have welcomed some more play with the endpapers here as there’s so much to go at with the topic, but even without that this is a fine, rich story that’s perfect to help a little one address nighttime fears.

My thanks to the publisher for a review copy.

View all my reviews

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