In this review, I’m revisiting a family favorite. Follow the Firefly/Run Rabbit Run! is a wordless picture book aimed at readers ages 2 and up that can be read in both directions. First, the reader follows a firefly’s search for a flashing light, reading from left to right towards the back cover. Then, a rabbit runs through the forest from right to left, ending up, unusually, at the front of the book . . . where a firefly is about to set off on a quest to find a flashing light. Yes, you could keep going all day!
Cleverly, neither storyline encroaches on the other. The firefly is at the forefront of the opening spread, his mournful expression immediately attracting attention and his bright yellow glow ensuring that he can be easily spotted on each page. The firefly interacts with a range of creatures in the forest on his search; their gestures directing him each time to the right, and the back cover of the book. I love his quirky characterization throughout the story: in one scene he is given a lopsided smile, in another he is shown scratching his head, and later even giving a thumb’s up.
As the firefly reaches his destination, a bright white rabbit leaps out of his cage away from the chaos caused by the flashing traffic light. The firefly is forgotten (although he is still on every page) as the rabbit takes centre stage. However, we soon realise that the spotlight is shared as our furry friend is being chased by a dog with very sharp teeth. The illustrations are fabulous, with Carvalho conveying emotions such as terror, anger, complacency and concern. Will the rabbit manage to outwit, outswim and outrun the dog? Ah, now that would be telling! You’ll have to explore this fun and colorful wordless book yourself to find out.
Follow the Firefly/Run Rabbit Run was originally published in Portuguese in 2013 under the title Olhe, por Favor, não Viu Uma Luzinha Piscando? Corra, Coelhinho, Corra!
Awards: Selected for dPICTUS “100 Outstanding Picturebooks”, Frankfurt Book Fair 2018
Note: This is an edited version of a review originally posted on the Planet Picture Book blog in March 2018.
Laura Taylor is the founder of world children’s literature blog Planet Picture Book. She is a small business copywriter, NAATI-certified translator of French into English and member of AUSIT and IBBY Australia. When she is not writing, she is reading, and chasing after her two young children. She tweets regularly @plapibo and posts at www.planetpicturebook.com