Review of A Gift for Nana

A Gift for Nana A Gift for Nana
by Lane Smith; illus. by the author; design by Molly Leach
Primary    Random House Studio    40 pp.    g
5/22    978-0-593-43033-0    $18.99
Library ed.  978-0-593-43034-7    $21.99
e-book ed.  978-0-593-43035-4    $10.99

This tenderhearted adventure follows young Rabbit through a series of fanciful encounters in search of the “perfect gift” for his grandmother. Rabbit is unsure of what to get Nana until a crow shares the location of a just-right present. As Rabbit embarks upon his journey, he gets gift suggestions from the moon, a multi-eyed forest creature, and a “big big fish,” all of which Rabbit politely dismisses. Tension builds when Rabbit provokes a moody volcano and sneezes into a spooky cave, experiences that only reinforce the youngster’s affection for his grandmother (“Nana would probably say a comforting something or other about now”). The quest ends at the top of a steep peak capped with a single carrot; Rabbit undermines his own success, however, when he stops on the way back for a nibble of the very present he’d worked so hard to find. The half-eaten carrot still proves to be the perfect gift for Nana “because it came from him.” Themes of familial love, appreciation, and gratitude resist saccharine cliché thanks in large part to Smith’s subversive sense of humor and offbeat writing. The mixed-media illustrations are textured and atmospheric, with rich, cool greens, browns, and blues—visually punctuated by a spectacular double-page spread of an erupting volcano in vibrant magenta and yellow. A wide horizontal trim size emphasizes the length of Rabbit’s journey, while Leach’s distinctive book design shines through thoughtful text layouts that lead readers effortlessly across the pages.

From the May/June 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Patrick Gall
Patrick Gall works as a librarian for children in preschool through eighth grade at the Catherine Cook School in Chicago.

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